October 13, 2019

#BookReview: What Makes Us by Rafi Mittlefehldt


Synopsis: 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.
 



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About the Author: Rafi Mittlefehldt is the author of two young adult novels, What Makes Us, releasing Oct. 15, 2019, and It Looks Like This, published in 2016.

When he's not writing, Rafi works in instructional design and volunteers for I'm From Driftwood, a non-profit that collects and posts LGBTQ stories from around the world. Raised in Houston, he worked briefly as a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Central Texas before settling in New York. He now lives in Philadelphia with his husband Damien and dog Betty.

Follow him on Instagram and Twitter (@rafimitt), and visit his website at rafimitt.com.
Rating: 🌟🌟
My Review: This book was pretty good. I do think that more time should have been taken with the story because at times it feels rushed and at others it feels like it gets side tracked.  The characters on the other hand were amazing!!  In the vein of The Hate You Give this title gives a voice to Israeli-Americans.  The biggest issue with this title for me at least is that it fails to bring out any emotion.  I wanted to really care for these characters but it just didn't have that spark.  


Overall, this one had a really good ending but the story itself lacks spark, good pacing, and direction. 





What Makes Us is a heart-stopping, heartbreaking read — a book full of heart. Mittlefehldt’s thoughtful, nuanced exploration of identity pulled me in from the very first page, and I could barely put it down. Eran’s story takes a universal coming-of-age theme — finding out your parents aren’t who you thought they were — to a tightly wound and thrilling extreme. Most important, this book provides satisfying, much-needed representation of a contemporary, complex Jewish teen and his family.
—Lisa Rosinsky, author of Inevitable and Only

This coming-of-age story has heft—and much relevance. Strong medicine for readers interested in how society accepts or rejects those who are different. An excellent choice for mature audiences.
—School Library Journal

There are layers of deep meaning in this taut novel that feel like it 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.
—School Library Connection

Provocative.
—Kirkus Reviews









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