BookDragon Books for the Diverse Reader

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan [in Shelf Awareness]

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan on BookDragon via Shelf AwarenssAward-winning writer Sarah Weeks (Pie; So B. It) and India-born debut author Gita Varadarajan present a poignant, comical cultural exchange in the alternating voices of two fifth-grade boys.

Joe Sylvester has been living in the same New Jersey town, going to the same school and hanging out with the same two buddies most of his life. Until he isn’t. Over the summer, his only friends moved away, which means Joe is starting the new year alone. Worse still, his mother is the new cafeteria monitor, and her public air kisses are almost enough to make him lose his ever-voracious appetite. Two things remain the same: his Auditory Processing Disorder and his bullying nemesis, Dillon Samreen.

Enter Ravi Suryanarayanan, for whom absolutely nothing is the same. He’s recently arrived from Bangalore, India, where he was a star student and athlete. Here, his new teacher misunderstands his fluent English just because he’s lacking a New Jersey accent. Ravi initially scorns Joe, “the big white kid with yellow hair,” who he thinks tripped him, while he waits to become best pals with manipulative Dillon, who keeps winking and smiling at him.

Over a single school week, Joe and Ravi overcome many false starts and decipher mixed signals to understand finally that they just might become the best of buddies. Blue M&Ms and leeches prove to be remarkably effective bonding agents indeed. Rollicking humor aside, Save Me a Seat is an affecting, compassionate reminder to look beyond assumptions and discover true friendship.

Discover: Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan team up to tell the tale of how a New Jersey native and an Indian immigrant spend the first week of fifth grade becoming friends.

Review: “Children’s & Young Adult,” Shelf Awareness for Readers, May 20, 2016

Readers: Middle Grade

Published: 2016


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