Review of Harbor Me

Harbor Me
by Jacqueline Woodson
Intermediate     Paulsen/Penguin     179 pp.     g
8/18     978-0-399-25252-5     $17.99One day, Ms. Laverne gathers her small class of fifth and sixth graders and walks them over to the old art room, where she invites them to talk to one another — without her. Every Friday at two o’clock, narrator Haley and her classmates sit in a circle during the last hour of the school day to talk about whatever they want. At first, the six students are skeptical and question Ms. Laverne’s judgment in leaving them alone — in pushing them “from the Familiar to the Unfamiliar” — but they soon realize the gift that she has offered them. While grappling with challenging issues of immigration, racism, incarceration, grief, and loss, they also explore deep issues of identity, community, family, change, and forgiveness. The power of remembrance is also an important theme, with Haley offering her voice recorder as a medium to collect her classmates’ stories and voices. As the school year unfolds, the safety and sanctity of their space deepens, as do their friendships. Woodson’s (Brown Girl Dreaming, rev. 9/14) latest will speak to young people’s insecurities and fears while recognizing their courage in facing them, and her craft as a weaver of words and imagery is evident on every page. A timely tribute to the resilience of young people and to the power of human connection that often overrides our differences.

From the November/December 2018 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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