Sunday, February 9, 2020

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan

"I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library." -- Jorge Luis Borges

Jamie Bunn was only trying to help the boy she had a crush on, but she ends up getting herself caught up in a cheating scandal at school. So her punishment is to do community service at her town's public library.

While spending her summer at the library, she comes face to face with members of the community she would not normally interact with: an elderly patron who tries to downplay his health issues, a man who has come on financial hard times, and even the girl who humiliated Jamie in front of her entire class.

But as the summer continues on, Jamie soon realizes that her summer of punishment is actually a blessing in disguise. Not only does she see firsthand what value the library holds for her community, but she also gets to have a front row seat to civic participation at work when her town's mayor is on a mission to close the library in order to save the town money.

A Kind of Paradise is the middle grade book answer to the The Public, the 2018 movie starring Emilio Estevez, about a renegade librarian who is on a mission to save his job while he gets himself caught up in a sit-in with homeless patrons who refuse to leave due to the extreme cold outside. Just as The Public is not a perfect movie, A Kind of Paradise has its flaws, but enumerating a long list in this book review would be missing the point of the book, which is to show kids and remind adults that libraries are important centerpieces of our community and they mean more to so many people than just borrowing books. The library is one of the few places that you can go in America today where you are not expected to spend any money, especially even more so now that many libraries are doing away with fines.

A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan
Published: April 30, 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins
Pages: 303
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Middle Grade
Disclosure: Audiobook copy provided by publisher

If you buy this book or any book through Amazon, it is my hope that you also regularly patronize independent bookstores, which are important centerpieces of thriving communities. While I am an Amazon Affiliate, that by no means implies that I only buy my books through their website. Please make sure you are still helping small, independent bookstores thrive in your community. To locate an independent bookstore near you, visit IndieBound

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