Rgz SALON member Lyn Miller-Lachmann has been the Editor-in-Chief of MultiCultural Review; the author of the award-winning multicultural bibliography Our Family, Our Friends, Our World; the editor of Once Upon a Cuento, a collection of short stories by Latino authors; and most recently, the author of Gringolandia, a young adult novel about a refugee family living with the aftermath of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile. The book is now in it's second print run and available for order (if you have trouble finding it, don't worry--the second run is on its way)! And don't forget to read the fascinating Cover Story for Gringolandia.
We're honored to have Lyn here as part of the rgz SALON, a feature where four of the top kidlit experts clue us in to the best YA novels they've read recently. Today, she reviews Life, After by Sarah Darer Littman (Scholastic, 2010). Incidentally, Life, After also has a great Cover Story.
"When I went to Ground Zero several weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001, and saw the tributes sent to New York City from all over the world, I thought of how this terrible event brought the United States into a global community that had suffered similar devastation. Here in our large, prosperous country, set apart from much of the world by two oceans, we are accustomed to feeling safe, above the turmoil that is a fact of life for most of the world’s populations, past and present. We never experienced in our homeland the devastation of two world wars, the dropping of the atomic bomb on a civilian population, the state terror visited upon the people of Chile following the 'other September 11' of 1973, and the regular terrorist bombings of buses, fast food restaurants, theaters, and nightclubs in places as disparate as Israel, India, Russia, and the Philippines.
"Through complex, realistic characters, Sarah Darer Littman makes that global connection in Life, After. Sixteen-year-old Daniela (Dani) Bensimon and her family have endured much in their native Argentina. When Dani was seven, her pregnant Aunt Sara died in the terrorist bombing of the Argentina-Israeli Mutual Aid Association (AMIA) in Buenos Aires on July 18, 1994. Then, in the financial crisis of 2001-02, her family’s clothing store went out of business. Now Dani’s father sits on the living room sofa in the throes of chronic depression, her mother endures a perilous journey to her low-wage job amid violent food riots, the electricity in their apartment has been cut off, and instead of being charity donors, the family is now charity recipients. The family’s only hope is to move to the United States, but that requires adjusting to a new language and culture and continued poverty. A classmate humiliates Dani for wearing her hand-me-down clothes, and her only lunch companion is a boy with Asperger’s Syndrome who is fascinated by world geography. Dani learns that the boy is the twin of the girl who humiliated her, and behind her anger and his secret journal that Dani rescues from a pack of bullies lies the death of their father in the 9/11 attacks the previous year.
"Littman probes the aftermath of two senseless events with depth and sensitivity, creating three memorable characters and compelling relationships between Dani and Jess and Jon Nathanson. Also effective, though at times static and repetitive, is her portrayal of Dani’s efforts to help her depressed father, who had not recovered from the death of his sister in the AMIA bombing when the failure of his business dealt a second blow. Readers learn of a little-known terrorist attack, and through Littman’s nuanced storytelling come to realize the common hurt and humanity of those who have survived the inhumanity of terrorism, whether they come from faraway lands or our hometown." -Lyn Miller-Lachmann
Here's the trailer for the book as well: