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The Year I Flew Away
Cover of The Year I Flew Away
The Year I Flew Away
In this magical middle-grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn't the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn. With the help of a clever witch, Gabrielle...
In this magical middle-grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn't the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn. With the help of a clever witch, Gabrielle...
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  • In this magical middle-grade novel, ten-year-old Gabrielle finds out that America isn't the perfect place she imagined when she moves from Haiti to Brooklyn. With the help of a clever witch, Gabrielle becomes the perfect American — but will she lose herself in the process? Perfect for fans of HURRICANE CHILD and FRONT DESK.
    It's 1985 and ten-year-old Gabrielle is excited to be moving from Haiti to America. Unfortunately, her parents won't be able to join her yet and she'll be living in a place called Brooklyn, New York, with relatives she has never met. She promises her parents that she will behave, but life proves to be difficult in the United States, from learning the language to always feeling like she doesn't fit in to being bullied. So when a witch offers her a chance to speak English perfectly and be "American," she makes the deal. But soon she realizes how much she has given up by trying to fit in and, along with her two new friends (one of them a talking rat), takes on the witch in an epic battle to try to reverse the spell.
    Gabrielle is a funny and engaging heroine you won't soon forget in this sweet and lyrical novel that's perfect for fans of Hurricane Child and Front Desk.

About the Author-

  • Marie Arnold was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti and came to America at the age of seven. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York alongside her extended family. Marie enjoys creating stories full of adventure, and wonder, which center on girls of color. When she's not writing, she's adding to her insanely long Netflix cue and trying not to order pizza. THE YEAR I FLEW AWAY is her debut middle grade novel. She lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Reviews-

  • Booklist

    November 1, 2020
    Grades 3-6 *Starred Review* When the violent Macoute raid Gabrielle's Haitian village, her parents decide it's in her best interest to live with her aunt and uncle in America until they can join her at a later date. Filled with excitement for a life in glorious New York City, Gabrielle soon finds that her expectations are extremely different from her reality in America, and soon she finds herself wishing she could just fit in. The question is: What would happen should those wishes come true? This refreshing middle-grade story offers a "new kid" narrative that defines the heart of what it means to be American in today's world. Arnold champions the beauty and complexity of Gabrielle's culture, which is intensified by Caribbean mysticism, an unlikely (yet highly influential) character, and the bustling backdrop of the City of Dreams. The beauty of this book lies in its depiction of not only the joy and excitement but the sacrifice and weight of immigration for young people. Arnold is thorough and intentional in fleshing out what it means for Gabrielle to support her family back in Haiti, which heightens the stakes of her choices, making readers even more deeply invested into her success. This book will shift the notion of what exactly it means to be Black, to be an immigrant, and to fit in and be accepted.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Kirkus

    December 15, 2020
    At home in Haiti, 10-year-old Gabrielle Marie Jean loves the rain, scary stories, beating the boys in mango-eating contests, and her family, most of all. When her parents' paperwork issues mean she must immigrate to the United States alone, every heavenly thing she believes about America can't outweigh the sense of dread she feels in leaving everything she knows behind. A preternaturally sensitive child, Gabrielle feels responsible for not only her own success, but her whole family's, so the stakes of moving in with her uncle, aunt, and cousins in Brooklyn are high--even before Lady Lydia, a witch, tries to steal her essence. Lydia makes her an offer she can't refuse: achieving assimilation. Arnold skillfully fuses distinct immigrant experiences with the supernatural to express a universally felt desire for belonging. Gabrielle desperately wants to fit in despite the xenophobia she experiences every day and despite making new, accepting friends in Mexican American Carmen and Rocky the talking rat-rabbit. But in trying to change herself, Gabrielle risks giving Lydia the power to conquer Brooklyn. Gabrielle is a charming narrator, and of course, good guy (girl) magic wins out in the end, but the threat to immigrant lives and identities is presented poignantly nonetheless in this richly imaginative origin story of one Haitian American girl that offers a fantastical take on immigrant narratives. Pratchett-like worldbuilding centers immigrant kids in a story filled with culture, humor, and heart. (Fiction. 9-12)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 4, 2021
    Balancing realistic and fantastical elements, Arnold’s astute debut asks hard questions about what it means to be an American and who is considered one. Ten-year-old Gabrielle is facing the biggest challenge of her life as she moves from her small, close-knit Haitian village to New York City. When her parents’ papers don’t come through, she’s sent alone to stay with an overworked aunt and uncle she’s never met, a standoffish teen cousin, and young twins. Though Gabrielle is determined to do her best, fitting in turns out to be harder than she thought. She doesn’t know English very well, and a mean girl bullies her relentlessly at school. Then a red door appears in her apartment building’s lobby at midnight; behind it, a seemingly benign witch offers to grant her wish of fitting in—for a small price. Arnold depicts experiences of racism that people of color frequently face in the U.S. (“In America, your color walks in the door before you do. Always”) while maintaining Gabrielle’s sense of her own strength and writing an inclusive, sometimes fanciful supporting cast, including Rocky, a rat that wants to be a rabbit. Ages 8–12.

  • School Library Journal

    July 30, 2021

    Gr 3-6-After moving from a close-knit community in Haiti to Brooklyn to live with her uncle and his family, Gabrielle realizes that life in the United States is not the paradise that she was led to believe. Finding herself the target of taunts at school, Gabrielle is desperate to become a "real" American, and she succumbs to the overtures of a wily witch who offers to grant wishes in return for Gabrielle's essence. Against the advice of her new friends Carmen (a human classmate) and Rocky (a talking rat), Gabrielle starts to use the wishes and discovers that her cultural identity is disappearing. Almost too late, she realizes her mistake, and she attempts to right the wrongs that her decisions caused. The story picks up in pace as Gabrielle gets more involved with the witch, and readers will find themselves unable to set the book down during the final chapters. The characters are well developed-even the school bully-and the prejudices that Gabrielle both witnesses and experiences are portrayed in a way that is frank and easy to understand. The interpersonal relationships and fantasy elements complement each other well, and Arnold navigates skillfully between the two. Gabrielle and her family are Black; her classmates and teachers come from a wide variety of backgrounds. VERDICT A fantasy adventure combined with a loving portrayal of Haitian culture and immigrant experiences creates an action-packed story with a lot of heart.-Sarah Reid, Four County Lib. Syst., NY

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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