Jaden is sure that his parents aren’t satisfied with him. And why would they be? They adopted a kid who lights things on fire, hides food in his closet, steals tip money from restaurants, and has to be sent from one therapist to another. In Half a World Away, written by Newbery Award-winner Cynthia Kadohata, Jaden knows that his mother in Romania didn’t want him, and now his parents in America, Penni and Steve, are trying to replace him. That’s right; he’s so disappointing that his adoptive parents are going to adopt another child.

Jaden will be traveling with his parents to Kazakhstan to pick up Bahytzhan, his new baby brother. Preparations for an international adoption are taxing and scary even in the best conditions, but Jaden and his parents are dealing with Jaden’s struggles, Penni’s overbearing sister and the surprise closing of their adoption agency. The trip is overwhelming before they even leave, and once they arrive, things do not go exactly to plan.

Half a World Away is a staggeringly realistic portrayal of both the arduous process of international adoption and the struggles faced by children once the adoption takes place. Told from Jaden’s point of view, Kadohata’s newest takes readers to Kazakhstan with the family and introduces a variety of unique characters, including many who are completely unexpected. Expertly written and beautifully told, Half a World Away opens places and experiences to readers that they may have never encountered before.

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