Children of the Stone City

Children of the Stone City
Age Range
Release Date
October 04, 2022
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Adam and his sister, Leila, are Nons—second-class citizens, living under the Permitted ruling class. Though their life in the Stone City is filled with family, stories, and music, they must carefully follow the rules, have all paperwork on hand, and never, ever do anything to anger a Permitted. When their father unexpectedly dies, they are even restricted in how they are allowed to grieve.      

Soon, Adam and Leila are back to school and practicing music again. But when Adam’s friend Zak plays a bold prank on a group of Permitted boys, and Adam is implicated in Zak’s “crime,” Adam knows their lives will never be the same again.

Editor review

1 review
Fighting injustice with music
Overall rating
Writing Style
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What worked:
The book immediately shares the division between cultures within Stone City as the main characters, Adam and Laila, are identified as lesser citizens called Nons. The Permitteds are entitled people and they even have their own language. Every year, Adam’s father must complete an application requesting the Permitteds to allow his wife to remain with the family and not be sent back to her hometown outside the Stone Wall. She’s not even allowed to hold a paying job due to her upbringing. Adams’s father fights to protect the rights of Nons as Permitteds constantly try to steal away the homes of his neighbors. This conflict is amplified when the father dies leaving no one to provide for the family and protect the Nons from the injustices they face.
Music plays a big role in the plot as Adam loves to play the violin. His father always wanted him to pursue his interest in music so his mother and grandmother continue to encourage his violin lessons even after his father’s death. Playing his grandfather’s violin called Jabari motivates Adam even more after he learns of its history. Practicing the instrument calms him and provides him with a way to escape the stress and complications of his life as a Non. It also creates problems as the Permitteds and Permitted police are suspicious about how a young Non boy can possess such a fine violin. Adam hopes and dreams that playing Jabari may provide a solution to many of his problems.
The author compassionately develops Adam’s character as the story focuses on the emotional hardships of his life and the fragility of peace in the city. The situation is compared to a small event creating an avalanche. Potential dangers lurk whenever Adam encounters any Permitteds so traveling to and from school always becomes an unpredictable adventure. His “cousin” Zak is more impulsive and free-spirited so spending time with him is more exciting but also more precarious. Adam tries to be an obedient son but circumstances on the streets make this challenging. His mother’s pending permit, an uncle’s house stolen by the Permitteds, an upcoming concert, skirmishes with Permitted boys, and an arrest by the Permitted police overwhelm Adam and force him to focus on his music further. His turmoil and confusion will be shared by readers.
What didn’t work as well:
Much of the plot surrounds Adam’s experiences and problems as a Non and the pace may be slower than young readers like. Much of the later parts of the plot deal with legal and political There’s plenty of drama to hold their interest though as the Permitteds never let readers forget who has the power. The plot’s resolution is ambiguous and readers may want more clarity on some issues.
The Final Verdict:
What the story lacks in action is made up for in drama. The injustices described within it mirror some cultures in the world and all readers should be affected emotionally and feel the anger and frustration. Overall, the book touches on a range of feelings and I recommend you give it a shot.
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