Half a World Away

 
4.5 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
1420 1
Half a World Away
Age Range
10+
Release Date
September 02, 2014
ISBN
9781442412750
Buy This Book
      
A kid who considers himself an epic fail discovers the transformative power of love when he deals with adoption in this novel from Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award. Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.’ That’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him, he’s sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels...nothing. But when they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they’ve travelled for has already been adopted, and literally within minutes are faced with having to choose from six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury, and there’s no way to control it, or its power. From camels rooting through garbage like raccoons, to eagles being trained like hunting dogs, to streets that are more pothole than pavement, Half a World Away is Cynthia Kadohata’s latest spark of a novel.

Editor reviews

2 reviews

International Adoption
Overall rating 
 
4.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
4.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
Jaden has been adopted by a US family, but he was in an orphanage in Romania for so long that he has an attachment disorder and is not really happy with Penni and Steve, his adoptive parents. He hoards food and is fascinated with electricity, and even went through a phase where he liked to set things on fire. His parents have him in therapy, but he still just isn't comfortable. When Penni and Steve decide to adopt a baby from Kazakhstan, Jaden feels even more threatened. The family travels there only to find that the baby they thought they were getting has already been adopted, and the child they are shown instead does not seem to be bonding with them in the very same way that Jaden isn't bonding. Jaden, however, finds a toddler with whom he feels a connection, and he would like the family to adopt Dimash instead of Ramazan. Even though Jaden has stressed out the parents emotionally and financially, they decide to take both special needs children, and Jaden then feels like he might be able to connect with them a little.

I can't think of another book about adopting a baby from a foreign country from the point of view of a middle grade child, or another book about a middle grade child adopted from another country who is not settling in well. Kadohata is an effective writer, and I did get sucked into this. The descriptions of the process and of traveling to another country were especially interesting.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 0 0
A unique, must-read narrative about adoption
Overall rating 
 
5.0
Plot/Characters/Writing Style 
 
5.0
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable) 
 
N/A
HALF A WORLD AWAY is a unique, wonderfully written narrative from the point of view of a very troubled boy. When Jaden's parents take him to Kazakhstan where they plan to adopt a new baby, many of his fears are brought to light. Will they now reject Jaden, just as his birth mother rejected him? Will the new baby get all the attention? Will his adopted parents even be able to pick out their own baby to adopt? Jaden has a lot to go through before his family can be completed and they can go home to the U.S.

The narrative is very well written and easy to follow. Jaden's thoughts are fascinating and captivating, and will keep young readers turning the pages. The tension between Jaden and his parents will keep adult readers wondering what's going to happen next. You'll feel like you're actually there, in the wilderness of Kazakhstan with Jaden, watching the world move by in front of your eyes as you try to cope with all the changes happening so very fast in his life.

What I loved:

The protagonist, Jaden. There were so many times while reading this book that I surprise-laughed, because of the sheer strangeness of this boy. He is so weird, so awkward, and kind of an awful person. There's a lot wrong with this boy's head, simply meaning that he has a lot of mental health and social issues. I am not an expert, and I'm not the author, so I won't be diagnosing Jaden. Regardless, Jaden has some issues, and he isn't shy about them. The author isn't shy about being up front with his flaws. You really get to see inside the head of a kid who is adopted and realize where a lot of his problems come from. I loved that.

Jaden's immediate attachment to Dimash. That's how kids make friends. There is just something that clicks in between them, and a connection is made. Jaden responded to that connection. It's possibly the only time he's ever done that with another kid, even though Dimash is much younger than him.

The ending. I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that it was everything I was hoping for, and more.

What I wanted more of:

Jaden at school. I wanted to see how he interacted, in real time, with his peers. I know the story isn't really about that, but I would have enjoyed at least a super short scene with Jaden in a classroom.

The verdict: Incredible. HALF A WORLD AWAY is a must-read for adoptive and foster parents everywhere, as well as for their kids. Teachers should read it. Social workers should read it. Siblings of adopted kids should read it. Highly recommended for everyone, especially boys ages 9-12.
Report this review Comments (0) | Was this review helpful to you? 1 0

User reviews

There are no user reviews for this listing.
Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Prophecy Untold (Shadow Realms book 3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Finding out my mother was taken by the demons was...
Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Isabel has one rule: no dating. It’s easier―...
Pawns (The Wielders of Arantha)
 
5.0 (2)
 
0.0 (0)
Seven hundred years in the future, a powerful alien...
Perfectly Oblivious
 
4.3
 
0.0 (0)
Cameron Bates (Cam) could have almost any girl at...
By Any Means Necessary
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
Heart-wrenchingly honest, fans of Brandy Colbert and Nicola Yoon...
Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
3.3
 
4.3 (1)
Annie and Lee were just children when a brutal...
Into the Crooked Place (Into the Crooked Place, #1)
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Into the Crooked Place begins a gritty two-book YA...
The Rift
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
As corporate greed is pitted against supernatural forces, two...
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
In the last days of the twenty-first century, sea creatures...
Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales, #7)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
What if Anna and Elsa never knew each other? ...
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Bestselling Divergent and Carve the Mark author Veronica Roth delivers...
Bernard Pepperlin
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
The drowsy Dormouse from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland...
Vicarious
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Paula Stokes weaves together a series of mysteries and the...
The Bookworm Crush
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This spinoff of The Replacement Crush featuring Amy and Toff...
The Unexpected Everything
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Andie must learn to embrace the beauty in chaos in...
What I Like About You
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
Can a love triangle have only two people in it?...

Latest Member Reviews

Fireborne (The Aurelian Cycle, #1)
 
4.3
"I’m going to start out this post by letting it be known by all and sundry that I was provided..."
Sick Kids in Love
 
5.0
"SICK KIDS IN LOVE is a beautiful story about love- as well as invisible illness/disability AND NOBODY DIES! (I do..."
The Light at the Bottom of the World (The Light at the Bottom of the World, #1)
 
5.0
"THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD is a compelling and atmospheric YA fantasy/science fiction. In the future, the..."
Conceal, Don't Feel (Twisted Tales, #7)
 
5.0
"If you adored FROZEN, you need to get your hands on this Twisted Tale which reimagines the story if Anna..."
 
4.0
"THE END AND OTHER BEGINNINGS is the latest from DIVERGENT author, Veronica Roth. The novel is comprised of six YA..."
The Bookworm Crush
 
5.0
"THE BOOKWORM CRUSH is an absolutely charming romantic comedy with all sorts of booklover homages. Amy McIntyre is @redheadrecs and..."
Scared Little Rabbits
 
3.0
"SCARED LITTLE RABBITS follows Nora (aka Eleanor, Lowercase) as she sets out on a summer camp adventure that resulted in..."
A Constellation of Roses
 
5.0
"A CONSTELLATION OF ROSES is a beautiful story of familial love and healing. Trix has been trying to make her..."
Frankly in Love
 
5.0
"FRANKLY IN LOVE is a surprisingly deep and heartfelt read. Although it is described as a rom-com, this is not..."
American Royals
 
4.7
"What if at the end of America’s Revolutionary War, George Washington was offered a crown and what if he said..."
Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance
 
4.0
"This is the type of book I’d like to see included in school curriculums. The stories are like wide open..."
When the Stars Lead to You
 
4.7
"WHEN THE STARS LED TO YOU is quite the emotional YA contemporary. While on the surface it seems like a..."
We Are the Perfect Girl
 
3.3
"'We Are the Perfect Girl' by Ariel Kaplan is a Cyrano De Bergerac style story. There are a host of..."
Stranger Things: Runaway Max
 
4.7
"'Stranger Things: Runaway Max' by Brenna Yovanoff provides an intriguing look into Max's life before and during her time in..."
Crown of Oblivion
 
5.0
"Engrossing and completely thrilling, CROWN OF OBLIVION is a fantastic new YA fantasy that I highly recommend. Dealing with themes..."
 
4.7
"Four very different high school girls plan to spend one month together in GIRLS OF JULY, and they each have..."
 
3.0
"BETWEEN WORLDS: FOLKTALES OF BRITAIN AND IRELAND is a collection of short stories that have been passed down over centuries..."
Forgiven Are the Starry-Eyed
 
5.0
"The story: Sheltered high school junior Andrea Cavanaugh believes she hits the jackpot when Josh McMillan, a..."
All the Things We Do in the Dark
 
4.3
"ALL THE THINGS WE DO IN THE DARK is an intensely challenging and thought-provoking read with some magical realism elements...."
Rules for Vanishing
 
5.0
"RULES FOR VANISHING is a deliciously haunting YA horror perfect for Halloween. Told through collected documents, interviews, and texts, this..."