A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Kids who aren't familiar with the recent history and political complexities of China and Vietnam will get an intriguing, manageable introduction here, and acquire a good foundation for learning more. They'll also learn about local culture, from dim sum and brilliantly lit skyscrapers in Hong Kong to tiny shops and pho bo in Hanoi.
Friendship, courage, and determination see Ethan and Ti-Anna through many perils, as does their ability to overcome disagreements and work together.
Positive Role Models
Ethan and Ti-Anna may not show the routine common sense of adults in dealing with the world, which is what leads them to embark on a quest that would terrify any parent. But their idealism, courage, and ability to work together serve them well and produce many positive results.
Violence & Scariness
For most of the book, the kids are dodging suspicious characters and bad guys, and don't know whom they should trust and who might send them to their deaths; Ti-Anna falls into the hands of human traffickers. Ti-Anna's father has disappeared and is probably being imprisoned in China. An explosion that blows up a boat is crucial to the plot (some people are injured, but none killed).
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Narrator Ethan refers to the fact that it should be very romantic spending the night in an exotic hotel with his cute classmate, but they're much too worried about finding her dad. Along the way, the teens encounter young girls being sold into prostitution by a human trafficking ring.
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At one point, an adult who's supposed to be guarding the kids fails and says "I am so screwed."
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Products & Purchases
Lots of popular brands are mentioned, from food (Snickers, McDonald's) to sports teams (a Vietnamese police officer sports a Dallas Cowboys hat). They're more part of the scenery and character definition than endorsements, however.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nine Days is a timely, thought-provoking adventure of international intrigue that finds two Washington, D.C., teenagers searching in Hong Kong and Vietnam for the girl's father, a Chinese civil rights activist who's gone missing. There's plenty of ethical discussion fodder, as they do this by running up the credit card bill of the boy's parents, who are out of town, and in the course of their adventures they try to help a truckload of girls caught up in human trafficking, who are destined for prostitution. Kids will learn a lot about recent Asian history, as well as local food and culture. A boat is blown up and some people are injured, but no one is killed.
Is It Any Good?
Author Fred Hiatt is a columnist and editorial page editor for the Washington Post, which helps account for the fast-paced, well-crafted story packed with current issues. While Nine Days could easily have become didactic or preachy, the heavy issues are woven into an intriguing, compelling tale that will appeal to tweens' spirit of adventure as well as their sense of right and wrong. Lots of local color and cultural vignettes as well as appealing characters take young readers on an exciting journey with plenty to think about.
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Our Editors Recommend
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