When the World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura

 When the World Turned Upside Down by K. Ibura. Scholastic, 2021. 9781338746266

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: ARC (1/22 release)

Genre:  Realistic fiction

What did you like about the book? Four kids living in the same apartment building try to adjust to the COVID-19 lockdown and the death of George Floyd. Shayla is African American, Ai is South Asian, and Ben and Liam present as White. They know each other from school, but there is tension as middle school has brought some changes in their relationships. Each is struggling with issues at home, but they all find meaning and solace as they work together as the Quartet, dedicated to helping people in their apartment building with groceries, dog walking, recycling and starting a caring network.

This was a great read. It feels very wise and relatable. Each kid has a different voice, which feels authentic, and each is struggling with big issues – the pandemic, racism – and personal ones, such as loneliness, depression (theirs and family members’), creativity and fear. I love how the author incorporates their small victories into the mix. When Liam helps a neighbor, he realizes “he had more power than he thought.” I especially appreciated how activism around the murder of George Floyd was part of the plot. There is so much to relate to in each kid’s struggle, and these issues will resonate long after the pandemic is over. Even the author’s notes about how she worked on the book throughout the pandemic are interesting.

Anything you didn’t like about it? No

To whom would you recommend this book? For middle grade readers who enjoy realistic fiction.

Who should buy this book? Elementary and middle school and public libraries. An essential purchase.

Where would you shelve it ? Fiction

Should we (librarians/readers) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Yes

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City and State: Stephanie Tournas, Robbins Library, Arlington, MA

Date of review: September 10, 2021

This entry was posted in *Book Review, *Starred Review, Activism, Covid 19, K. Ibura, Pandemic, Realistic fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.