Emily Out of Focus
Twelve-year-old Emily is flying with her parents to China to adopt and bring home a new baby sister. She’s excited but nervous to travel across the world and very aware that this trip will change her entire life. And the cracks are already starting to show the moment they reach the hotel—her parents are all about the new baby and have no interest in exploring.
In the adoption trip group, Emily meets Katherine, a Chinese-American girl whose family has returned to China to adopt a second child. The girls eventually become friends and Katherine reveals a secret: she’s determined to find her birth mother, and she wants Emily’s help.
New country, new family, new responsibilities—it’s all a lot to handle, and Emily has never felt more alone.
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Since Spitzer has been through this process, the details of traveling to China to finalize an adoption are first rate, I especially liked the detail in scenes like the one where Emily's family goes to a big box store to get baby supplies! Emily and Katharine's relationship is so typical of girls thrust together by circumstance or parental meddling, and middle school readers will definitely see the truth in it! The adventure is solid. This has a similar vibe to Peacock's Red Thread Sisters (2012) and will appeal to readers who have impending changes in their families about which they are not thrilled.
Emily nor Katherine start out as a bit unlikable, but their experiences make them grow up a bit, which was interesting to see.
This is a more adventurous yet tween-angsty version of Kadohata's Half a World Away and will appeal to readers who want to know more about foreign adoptions. Vickers's Paper Chains would be another good title; it deals with a girl adopted from a Russian orphanage.
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