A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Readers will learn about the adoption process and how being abandoned by one's birth mother can have lasting psychological repercussions. Several interesting facts about Thomas Edison and electrons are discussed.
It's possible to learn how to love, and it's possible to give love -- and to be transformed by it -- even when it's not returned.
Positive Role Models
Jaden believes he doesn't deserve his adoptive mother's love and that he'll never be able to return the love she feels for him. He lies, steals, and breaks promises, and sometimes his behavior is dangerous and hurtful, but he's honest about his faults, and readers will understand they're directly related to the lack of love and nurturing he received during his first eight years. Through his observations of others and his own introspection and growing empathy, Jaden overcomes his difficulties and learns to open his heart.
Violence & Scariness
Jaden talks about how he used to have a problem with setting things on fire, for which he went to counseling. He also sometimes hurts himself when he does "aggressive running" to get his energy out.
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Products & Purchases
M&Ms, Kit Kat, Johnnie Walker, Ziploc.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know Half a World Away by National Book Award-winning author Cynthia Kadohata (The Thing About Luck) tells the story of Jaden, a troubled 12-year-old Romanian boy who was adopted at age 8 and brought to the United States. He lies, steals, and breaks promises to his adoptive parents. But over the course of the novel, his emotional growth is believable and moving.
Is It Any Good?
The simple, direct language makes this book to get absorbed in, and the descriptions of life in Kazakhstan, with its camels, hunting eagles, and barren but beautiful landscape, are fascinating. As in her National Book Award-winning The Thing About Luck, author Cynthia Kadohata's deep and complex characterizations make it easy to imagine a life likely vastly different from those of most readers. Jaden's candor about his past and his inability to adjust to life with his adoptive family makes him, if not exactly likable, an intriguing character whom readers will want to get to know better, and his emotional growth is believable and moving.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.