Featured Review: What Makes Us (Rafi Mittlefehldt)

43984190._SY475_

About This Book:

A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel. Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest. But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently. Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

 

 

 

*Review Contributed By Olivia Farr Staff Reviewer*

 

 

 

WHAT MAKES US is an intriguing story that follows a teenaged boy, his mother (in the past), and his friend in alternating sections. The book largely deals in trust/secrets within family, the way that your relatives can shape you (nature vs. nurture), as well as the brutality of people and news and coping with the unexpected.

Eran lives with his mother and has never known his father. His mother is very tight-lipped about him, but Eran has always wondered. However, he never expected to receive these truths after he is part of/leading a protest march against a new police policy that allows them to pull anyone over with or without documented cause (along the lines of stop and frisk). When counter-protesters get in their face and rile him up, he shoves one of them. The video is all over the news and internet, and someone recognizes his mother, who escorted him away from the event.

Eran then learns that his father was a terrorist who bombed a celebration when he was 2. His mother had never expected it and did the best she could by taking him far away, changing their names, and not talking about him. Now, Eran is left wondering how much of his father he is like and dealing with public shaming and shunning (for something that he had nothing to do with).

A smaller, secondary plot involves Eran's friend, Jade, who found a picture that does not make sense with what she knows about herself, leading her to question her parents and the lies that they may have told her. This story does not interfere with the main story but adds a small amount to it by allowing readers to see an ally (she stands up for Eran) as well as the way that parents may have good intentions even with not great outcomes.

What I loved: The best part of the book is how well it shows public-shaming, racism, and the consequences of media followed by public opinion. Eran is a very easily sympathized character, and his story unfolds beautifully. This was somehow a gripping story as we follow him in the aftermath of these earth-shattering revelations (which are complicated by being in the public eye). I also really liked that we see some things from the mother's perspective also, and their relationship- while it does have some bumps- ultimately comes together better due to the hardship and new understandings.

Final verdict: Engrossing and thought-provoking, this novel is a great read that deserves a read and maybe even a reread. With some deep and important themes, this book will leave the reader thinking about it after the last page is read. Recommend for YA readers of any age who are looking for an insightful and engaging read.

 

 

 

 

*Find More Info & Buy This Book HERE!*

 

 

 

What's New In YA ~ October 22nd, 2019
YABC Staff's Current Reads ~ October 21st, 2019

Related Posts

 

Comments

Already Registered? Login Here
No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Award-winning author Sue Macy offers a fresh and timely account...
Slayer (Slayer, #1)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Into every generation a Slayer is born… ...
Dealing in Dreams
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The Outsiders meets Mad Max: Fury Road in this fast-paced...
Girls With Sharp Sticks (Girls With Sharp Sticks, #1)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Some of the prettiest flowers have the sharpest thorns. ...
The Secret Key (Agatha Oddly)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Meet thirteen-year-old Agatha Oddly – a bold, determined heroine, and...
Skipping Forward
 
3.8
 
0.0 (0)
What if you could skip forward in time, but...
The Hand on the Wall (Truly Devious, #3)
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson delivers the...
Finding Mr. Better-Than-You
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
A heartbroken teen, with the help of her best...
Golden Chains
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Never fall in love with the enemy. If only...
Wardens of Eternity
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
Magic and magical creatures. Immortal gods and goddesses. History...
Tweet Cute
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around...
Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Fifteen-year-old JL Markham's life used to be filled with carnival...
The Lost Legends
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
All her life, Princess Adalina heard tales of the legendary,...
We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman
 
3.0
 
0.0 (0)
In a series of interwoven fictionalized stories, Deborah Noyes gives...
In the Hall with the Knife
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
A murderer could be around every corner in this thrilling...
Birthday
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Boyhood meets The Sun Is Also a Star in this...

Latest Member Reviews

Breaking Through: How Female Athletes Shattered Stereotypes in the Roaring Twenties
 
5.0
"One hundred years ago. When I was growing up, this seemed like an impossibly long time in the past. The..."
Scarred
 
4.8
"Emotionally, I mean. What I loved: As you can guess from the title,..."
The Path Divided
 
5.0
"I'm going to break out of my usual review mold here because this book was so many things. It..."
Girl at Heart
 
4.8
"What I loved: Just about everything. This was an adorable YA Contemporary Romance with a surprisingly well-rounded..."
Skin Hunter
 
4.3
"What I loved: The world building was perfectly illustrated without bogging down the story. Everything from the..."
Our Year in Love and Parties
 
4.0
"What I loved: The story was told through the unique lens of four specific events with..."
The Secret Key (Agatha Oddly)
 
4.0
"Agatha loves the work of Detective Hercule Poirot. He's actually her imaginary friend and she uses his work to influence..."
Jack Kerouac is Dead to Me
 
4.3
"JACK KEROUAC IS DEAD TO ME is Gae Polisner’s most recent YA Contemporary novel. Like in her other books, she..."
Woven in Moonlight
 
5.0
"Woven in Moonlight is a beautiful and lush fantasy, based on the culture and history of Bolivia. It is set..."
Julie Winsome M.D., Medical Detective Science Fiction Mysteries, Volume # 1
 
4.7
"Always fun to follow along with Dr. Julie Winsome Medical Detective! Great stories and I love the writing style..."
We Are All His Creatures: Tales of P. T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman
 
3.0
"WE ARE ALL HIS CREATURES by Deborah Noyes is a series of eleven short stories about the beloved showman, P.T...."
Jane Anonymous: A Novel
 
4.7
"JANE ANONYMOUS follows two timelines: one while Jane was captured for 7 months and one after she is back home...."
Finding Mr. Better-Than-You
 
4.3
"FINDING MR. BETTER-THAN-YOU starts off like a cheesy romantic comedy, but ends up being a lot more fulfilling light-hearted YA..."
Freaky in Fresno
 
3.7
"FREAKY IN FRESNO is a spin on the old novel, FREAKY FRIDAY. Ricki (nickname for Lyric) had a falling out..."
Only Mostly Devastated
 
4.3
"ONLY MOSTLY DEVASTATED is a charming YA contemporary romance that follows Ollie. Ollie had lived in California, until this year..."
Neffatira's First Challenge
 
5.0
"The descriptions are very beautiful and you can perceive the feelings of the characters to the point of empathy. ..."
Ink in the Blood (Ink in the Blood Duology #1)
 
4.3
"INK IN THE BLOOD is an engaging and atmospheric YA fantasy. Celia Sand was delighted when she was chosen to..."
Starfell: Willow Moss & the Lost Day (Starfell, #1)
 
4.0
"STARFELL is a charming and magic-filled middle grade fantasy that sweeps young readers away into another world. Willow Moss seemed..."
Journey of the Pale Bear
 
5.0
"What an adventure I just had! From the moment, I opened the book, I was transported to the 13th century..."
Hey Grandude!
 
4.5
"'Hey Grandude!' by Paul McCartney, illustrated by Kathryn Durst, is a fun, colorful, and exciting adventure. The illustrations enhance the..."