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Monday, June 25, 2018

Paper Things by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Paper ThingsAri, the main character of Paper Things, has a big decision to make.  It's not a decision that most 5th graders have to deal with, but to honor her mother's dying wish - that she and her older brother, Gage, always stay together - it's a decision that she must make.  Ari has to decide if she should continue living with her guardian, who she loves, or leave and live with Gage, who she also loves.  She chooses Gage.  That wouldn't be such a big deal in most circumstances, but much to Ari's surprise, Gage reveals that he doesn't have a place to live.  And so the story begins.

For most of the book Ari and Gage are homeless, sleeping at shelters or friends' homes.  Ari tries to act as normal as possible with her friends who don't know her secret, but bit by bit they start to notice things:  Ari's hair isn't beautifully braided anymore, her clothes are not clean, and her schoolwork is not up to it's usual high quality. Eventually, the hardships and stress get to Ari and she makes another big decision.

You're probably wondering what the title, Paper Things, has to do with the story.  Ari has a collection of paper dolls and paper furniture, and paper things that she's been cutting out of catalogs for years.  This collection is very precious to her and plays a big part in her life, but also helps her cope with the challenges she's now facing.

This is a very powerful and emotional book, and you might start thinking, could this ever happen to me? I continued thinking about this story long after I finished reading it. I think most 4th and 5th graders would really like this book.

By the way, Ari loves the library.  Maybe that's why I like this story so much!

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