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The Length of a String
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The Length of a String
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Imani is adopted, and she's ready to search for her birth parents. Anna has left behind her family to escape from Holocaust-era Europe to meet a new family—two journeys, one shared family history, and...
Imani is adopted, and she's ready to search for her birth parents. Anna has left behind her family to escape from Holocaust-era Europe to meet a new family—two journeys, one shared family history, and...
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Description-

  • Imani is adopted, and she's ready to search for her birth parents. Anna has left behind her family to escape from Holocaust-era Europe to meet a new family—two journeys, one shared family history, and the bonds that make us who we are. Perfect for fans of The Night Diary.

    Imani knows exactly what she wants as her big bat mitzvah gift: to find her birth parents. She loves her family and her Jewish community in Baltimore, but she has always wondered where she came from, especially since she's black and almost everyone she knows is white. Then her mom's grandmother—Imani's great-grandma Anna—passes away, and Imani discovers an old journal among her books. It's Anna's diary from 1941, the year she was twelve and fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone, sent by her parents to seek refuge in Brooklyn, New York. Anna's diary records her journey to America and her new life with an adoptive family of her own. And as Imani reads the diary, she begins to see her family, and her place in it, in a whole new way.

Excerpts-

  • From the cover

    22 August 1941
    t. 1950

    Dear Belle,

    All my life I’ve shared with you. Before we were born, we shared Mama’s belly, splitting the resources so equally that we weighed the exact same amount at birth. The story of our arrival was our bedtime story for years and years. How the doctor didn’t realize there were two of us until nine minutes after I was born, when you followed me into life. (How you have always loved a good surprise!) How in those nine minutes, Mama and Papa had already named me Annabelle. How they were so shocked at your arrival, they didn’t think to come up with a second name. Instead, they split mine in two. I became Anna, you Belle.

    Twelve years later, we share more than a name. To strangers, we’re identical. We have the same straight brown hair cropped to the same place beneath our ears, the same gray-green eyes, the same pattern to our forehead wrinkles when we squint without our same-prescription glasses. We have the same height, the same weight, the same narrow heels that make buying shoes the same type of challenge. Save the mole on my left elbow that you lack, we are mirror replicas. So, like a name, we share our appearance.

    We certainly don’t share a personality. You are carefree and adventurous, while I am careful and cautious. You are quick to laugh, but also quick to cry. Your emotions flap back and forth like clothes drying on the line. We are both 12 but in many ways you are like our baby sister Mina, lashing out in anger in one moment, then jumping with delight the next, your hurt erased at the sight of something pretty.

    Don’t be angry at that comparison. You are the fun twin, the mischievous twin, the reckless and funny and passionate twin. I am the dull twin, the quiet twin, the responsible and reserved twin. I’m more careful than you, and more deliberate. I compared you to Mina, but you always compare me to Oliver. That is a compliment as well. Oliver is only 4, but he’s wiser than most adults. We all love his story too. How he had so many ear infections as a baby that Mama used to worry he wouldn’t hear. How he now hears every whisper, and how nothing escapes his big blue eyes. We know it’s more than that, however. He understands. People, ideas, feelings . . . it’s as though the tubes the doctor put in his ears made a path all the way to his heart. I am quiet like Oliver, and I like to think I share at least some of his intuition.

    Of course I’ve arrived back at sharing. With so many brothers and sisters, we know nothing besides sharing. Me, you, Oliver, Mina, Greta (who is every bit 9), and Kurt, now 14 . . . Our house was quite full enough with 8 people. When the occupation pushed Grandmother and Grandfather to move in, it became nearly unbearable for us all. I know you too have wished to have something for yourself . . . a bed, a hairbrush, a whole potato, or an entire magazine. The only thing I’ve ever had for me and me alone are my thoughts. I try to keep them for just me, but in that I even fail, for you, Belle, know me to my core. You speak for me and through me, and often (does this happen to you?) it’s as though I don’t know my own opinion until I hear you speak yours. 
    I’ve often wished for some time alone . . . some moments, belongings, or experiences just for me. I wanted to be like the magician who performs at the Luxembourg Fair and make my 5 siblings, even you, even Oliver, vanish.

    Now here I am, crossing the ocean, my wish come regrettably true. Who is vanishing, you or me?


    Chapter 1

    October...

About the Author-

  • Elissa Brent Weissman is the award-winning author of several middle grade novels, including the Nerd Camp series, and the editor of Our Story Begins, an anthology of writing and art by today's kids' book creators back when they were kids themselves. She is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and earned a Master's degree in children's literature at Roehampton University in London. Named one of CBS Baltimore's Best Authors in Maryland, Elissa lives with her family in Baltimore, where she teaches creative writing to children, college students, and adults.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    March 26, 2018
    Twelve-year-old Imani is preparing for her bat mitzvah and working up the courage to ask her parents for the gift she wants: their help searching for her birth parents. As one of the only black kids in her Baltimore community, Imani is used to insensitive questions about her background and Judaism, and she longs to connect with the biological family who share her DNA. When she discovers her great-grandmother Anna’s diary of her journey from Luxembourg to Brooklyn to escape the Nazis, she finds a kindred spirit. Interspersed journal entries detail Anna’s story: she was the first of her siblings to leave the family, though her
    parents planned for the others, including Anna’s twin, to follow. Anna was taken in by a kind couple, paralleling Imani’s adoption, but yearned for the day her first family would arrive. Readers and Imani know, though, that Anna’s family was sent to the camps, lending a grave undercurrent to her hopeful narration. Both Anna and Imani are richly drawn characters, complex and sympathetic. Imani gains insight from Anna that helps her decide what she truly needs to know about her past, in this moving, deftly plotted story. Ages 10–14. Agent: Flip Brophy, Sterling Lord Literistic.

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    Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
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