Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a starred review) 5
Genre: realistic fiction
What did you like about the book? Joe is 11 years old and lives in London in a sterile hospital room because he has an immune deficiency disease. Since losing his parents in a car accident, his relationships are limited to his sister Beth, the hospital staff, and a friend named Henry with a similar condition in a hospital in the USA. The two boys communicate via Skype and are excited about Henry’s upcoming outdoor walk, made possible by NASA and a spacesuit-type of garment designed to protect Henry from germs. Joe’s voice rings very true. He longs for a typical life outside the hospital and is afraid of dying. He struggles with a variety of physical symptoms, and battles anxiety and boredom. When a new nurse named Amir comes to the hospital, Joe initially distrusts him. But soon the two form a deep friendship. Unfailingly optimistic, Amir believes in aliens and crop circles and he has a plan to help Joe experience more of the world. As the story progresses, it gathers emotional power and readers may find it difficult to stop reading the last 100 or so pages.
Anything you didn’t like about it? The recommended age of 8-10 seems a bit young, particularly given the book’s length of 352 pages and the subject matter.
To whom would you recommend this book? Read Alikes? Recommend to readers who enjoyed Wonder by R.J. Palacio. Also recommend The Desperate Adventures of Zeno and Alya by Jane Kelley, and, for young adult readers, The Last Leaves Falling by Sarah Benwell.
Who should buy this book? Middle schools and public libraries should consider purchasing this book.
Where would you shelve it ? Middle grade or young adult fiction, depending on your collection.
Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes, near the top at least.
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Renée Wheeler, Leominster Public Library, Leominster, MA
Date of review: April 26, 2017