Skip to main content

Save Me a Seat

I always enjoy books by Sarah Weeks. She writes heartfelt, fun, quick MG reads. They are universally easy to book talk and sell. Whenever she has a new book out, I try to read it as soon as possible. I was even more excited by Save Me a Seat due to its synopsis and format. Sarah Weeks wrote this book with Gita Varadarajan and it follows two boys in their first week of fifth grade.

Ravi is newly arrived in America from India. He is excited about starting a new school. He was at the top of his class in India and an excellent cricket player. He knows he will impress all of his new classmates and teachers. He will begin to make friends and things will be wonderful. Things do not go as Ravi planned however. His teacher implies he may need help with English even though he speaks English just fine. His Math process is completely different. The one person he thought would be his friend turns on him.

Joe is not exited about starting school. After all, he's gone to this school since Kindergarten and knows exactly what to expect from class bully Dillon. It doesn't help that his only two friends moved over the summer and his mom has taken a job as a lunch monitor. Joe always has one eye on Dillon because he's learned from experience the unpleasant results of letting Dillon sneak up on him. Joe knows exactly what is in store for Ravi, and but Ravi doesn't seem to want his help.

Any one familiar with the tropes and stories of MG lit is not going to be surprised by the course this book takes. What makes it special and stand out is the strength of the voices and characterization of both of the boys. The story is told in first person perspective in alternating chapters from each boys' point of view. Individually each boy's story is strong. Through Ravi we get a brilliant picture of what it is like to try to navigate a completely foreign place that you now live. Even though the language barrier is not there because Ravi speaks English (as do many immigrants). Ravi is a bit over confident and grows a lot over the course of the book. Joe has a sensory disorder that makes school hard for him. He is smart but has a hard time focusing. This plus his size as the largest kid in the class makes him a target for the class bully. Joe also grows a lot over the course of the book learning to be more assertive and speak his mind. Eventually the two boys form an alliance with the potential to be a great friendship. Their individual stories are made stronger for being combined. Having both fills in gaps and shows a greater wider picture of the school culture. This is not only a brilliant story telling device abut also serves the larger theme of the story incredibly well.

Aside from the boys, my favorite part of this book is the adults. There are fantastic teachers in this book and I found how they worked with the kids to be incredibly accurate. Even better than that is the involvement and care of the parents. Both Ravi and Joe have parents who care deeply for them and want to help even as they come up agains misunderstanding and the boys' push for independence and desire to fix things themselves. As things that take place at school are influenced by home (and vice versa), it was important to see both environments balanced in both boys' stories.

I haven't seen much talk about this book and would love to see more. It is an excellent work of realistic fiction that will work as both a window and a mirror for almost any child. Like most of Weeks's other books, it is short and easy to book talk. I'm really hoping we see more from Varadarajan in the future too.

Comments

Maureen E said…
I was interested in this one early and forgot all about it! Putting it on hold now.
Brenda said…
First I'm hearing of this book, but it sounds very interesting. I like the cover and yeah for involved parents!
Brandy said…
It's really good. While it deals with some tough stuff, it's still light and hopeful too. And amusing.
Brandy said…
Like I said, I haven't seen it talked about a lot. It needs more exposure!

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Shorter Musings MG Fantasy

Here are some shorter musings on recent MG fantasy reads. Anya and the Dragon   by Sofiya Pasternack This book is fun. It is a book full of adventure, an obvious bad guy, some more complicated morally gray area characters, and a strong, brave heroine. It is also a book about friendships, community, and fighting for what is right. All things that usually work for me really well. While I enjoyed this, I did feel it was a little overlong and there were certain plot points at the end I didn't love. However, there were things I thought were done really well, such as Anya's Jewish faith and the idea that power needs to be challenged. In the end it was a middle of the road read for me, but it is one I will certainly be recommending to dragon and fantasy adventure lovers I know! R is for Rebel   by J. Anderson Coats This is tough because I usually really like Coats's books. I had such a hard time with this one though on so many levels. It's difficult to get into because t

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein

YA Book GIVEAWAY!!!

On Tuesday I posted my Top Ten Books Read so Far in 2013 and promised to highlight more of this year's favorites and offer them in giveaways. This is the YA giveaway. This is open to anyone who lives where Book Depository ships for free . Book Choices: TO ENTER: Leave a comment below saying which book looks most interesting to you and leave a way I can reach you if you are the winner. (email address or twitter handle-If you are using Twitter it would be helpful if you followed me, @brandymuses , in case I need to DM you.) Entries after Monday, July 1 8:00 PM EST are invalid. The winner will be drawn as close to 8 as possible.  Yes, I still do my giveaways the old fashioned way.

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a