I have been incredibly conflicted about this book. It has gotten starred reviews everywhere and everyone I have heard talking about this book absolutely love it. It honestly wasn’t a book that really spoke to me when I was reading the back of it but I read it because I was invited to a dinner with the author (which I have just gotten home from).
Both this book and the dinner confirmed for me that I am not a big YA reader. While I understand the importance of this book and I believe that teenagers will enjoy it. Tina is a strong female character who tells a very important story about refugees in Africa. All of this is on top of an intriguing mystery and some adventure. All of that said, I found that the plot dragged quite a bit. I usually power through YA and middle grade books but, this time, I had a really hard time getting through it. Many times I felt like the book was just stalling instead of going on the adventure or solving the mystery. I believe that this was probably because of the hope for character growth but for me the book just felt like it didn’t feel like it needed to be as long as it was. Natalie told us at dinner tonight that she never took and English class in college and this is her first book (as well as telling us how jealous she is of other authors’ ability to plot really well) and I felt like this showed for me. This book was very much paced like a first book.
I very much enjoyed getting to meet Natalie and hear her talk about why she wrote what she wrote. So much of the book is based on the stories that she heard day in and day out when she was taking refugee statements. I’m glad that she is finding a way to share these stories and that she is trying to get the youth of the world interested in world affairs. More now than ever it is important to have young people realize what is going on in the world.