A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Lots of detail about surviving -- and not surviving -- the Holocaust, including story of French Jewish babies left with Catholic nuns by their desperate parents, raised with no knowledge of their origin to protect them from the Nazis, and only discovering the truth in late adulthood. The real-life story of a Tennessee middle school that set out in 1998 to collect six million paper clips to commemorate Holocaust victims inspires a similar effort in Linked. Details about Judaism as one character prepares for his bar mitzvah, seeking help from a classmate and a rabbi. Also details about activities and painstaking attention to detail as part of an archeological dig.
Strong message of respect, tolerance, teamwork, and standing up to those engaged in hateful bullying. Equally strong message of not being defined by your own stupid or negative behavior, but looking for ways to make things right and make yourself better -- as a character puts it, "We all do jerky things. It's what you do next that matters." As another character says, "A paper chain can be done when it hits a certain number of links. But tolerance is a project you always have to keep working at." At the end of the book is a list of resources to combat antisemitism, Holocaust denial, racism, and intolerance.
Positive Role Models
Characters represent a range of attitudes, from moral outrage over hateful behavior to supporting the hate (or at least thinking it's no big deal). As story unfolds, many show unexpected qualities, for good and ill -- the paper chain project generates team spirit, empathy, internet fame, which leads to still more epic kindness and astonishing hatefulness. A fateful prank involves lots and lots of manure. Along the way, insights and wisdom emerge. Link: "We can't change the past. All we can do is work hard to make things right in the future. I promise that, for me, that starts now." Rabbi Gold: "God forgives us -- and by doing that, God shows us how to forgive each other. Even more important, those of us who've been forgiven spend the rest of our lives trying to be worthy of that forgiveness." In terms of representation, Michael is Dominican, Dana is a Jewish kid from New England, Link has just discovered his family's Jewish roots and is now preparing for his bar mitzvah.
Violence & Scariness
The deaths of millions in the Holocaust become the focus of a memorial effort that's important to the plot. In the past, the Ku Klux Klan held a notorious cross-burning rally in the town, and some characters' family members were involved.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
A boy and girl, now in seventh grade, have been playing at breaking up and getting back together since they were practically toddlers.
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A character tells an obnoxious vlogger, "Please don't take it personally when I tell you where you can stick your millions of followers." Occasional "butt" and "moron."
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Products & Purchases
Zoom plays an important part in the story, as do FedEx, UPS, Marvel comics. Occasional mention of real-life products for scene-setting purposes. An online vlogger exploits and manipulates events to promote his channel.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Linked is bestselling author Gordon Korman's story of swastikas that show up in a small-town Colorado middle school and the Holocaust memorial project that's launched in response. The title refers to central character Link, the six million links in a commemorative paper chain, and the various connections that bind us. A whole lot of buried history comes to the surface as chapters are narrated by various seventh graders -- especially Michael, a Dominican kid who's also the art club president; Dana, a Jewish kid from New England whose parents are working on an archeological dig outside of town; and Link, the jock/prankster/most popular guy on campus who's just discovered his family's Jewish roots and is now preparing for his bar mitzvah. It takes on prejudice and hate, but it's complicated, with unexpected results aplenty, from global outpourings of kindness to discovering a dark side to people you've known all your life. There's also an internet vlogger who's all too happy to exploit the whole situation for ratings. The story offers lots of positive messages, especially about acceptance and diversity, and the fact that while you can't change the past, you get to choose what to do about it and what to do going forward. Feel-good moments, dramatic reversals, and surprise revelations are plentiful. Easy answers? Not so much, as doing the right thing is a nonstop work in progress.
Is It Any Good?
There are lots of relatable moments and few easy answers in this positive but unsettling tale of swastikas in a small-town middle school and the Holocaust memorial project that springs up in response. As the town grapples with the unexpected hate eruption, more surprises, revelations, and plot twists emerge, and characters see a different side of people and places they've known their whole lives. The results can be life-changing: "It seems like a million years ago that I was an ordinary kid who thought nothing was more important than some upcoming sports season and my next dumb prank with Jordan and Pouncey. I barely even noticed the scientists' kids, and Jewish was something somebody else was in places far away from Chokecherry. I'm not sure I was happier then, but my life was a lot less complicated."
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.