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What Makes Us

By Rafi Mittlefehldt
Publisher: Candlewick Press Copyright Year: 2019 ISBN/ISSN: 9780763697501

Review

High school student Eran Sharon and his Israeli mom, Devorah, live in small town suburbia in Texas. Passionate and political in his classes, Eran organizes a protest against excessive police power that gets wildly out of hand. When Devorah pulls him away from it, she is recognized by the press and the identity of Eran's long-lost father is revealed as a terrorist who committed murder 15 years ago when Eran was just a toddler. Their lives soon dissolve into chaos as readers witness the progression of hateful thought, speech, and action against them and their synagogue through no fault of their own. Terrifyingly realistic and timely, the perspectives and opposing viewpoints of mob mentality and Eran's innocence are detailed and disturbing. The central question, derived from the Talmud, is "If someone can stop injustice but doesn't, then is he to blame for that injustice?" Feeling attacked on all sides by media, fellow students, and neighbors, Eran finds support from his friends, Declan and Jade, as he struggles with his resemblances to his father. There are layers of deep meaning in this taut novel that feel like they came directly from the headlines with all the frenzy of social media. The well-drawn characters and believable dialogue are sure to inspire critical thinking and impassioned debate, for students will see themselves clearly in both the character of Eran and the maelstrom of current events that will be all too relevant to them.

Reviewer: Lonna Pierce, Retired School Librarian, Bnghamton City School District, Binghamton, NY
Rating: Highly Recommended
Grade (as stated by Reviewer/SLC): 9-12
Review Date: November 1, 2019

Product Description

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.

Media Type Book, eBook
Binding HC
# Pages 336
Price 17.99
Grade (as stated by publisher) 9 & Up
Grade (as stated by Reviewer/SLC) 9-12
Genre Fiction
Sub-Genre Realistic Fiction
Content Subject 1 Conflict & Courage
Content Subject 2 Civics & Government
Time Period 21st century
Region North America
Story: Issue-oriented
Characters/Characterization: Multiple Points of View
Language: Compelling
Tone/Mood Suspenseful
Pace: Lively/Fast
Setting: Immersive
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Entry ID: 2214971