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Bifocal

3.55  ·  Rating Details  ·  419 Ratings  ·  46 Reviews

On the White Ravens' Outstanding New International Books for Children and Young Adults list, 2008 ForeWord Magazine s Book of the Year Awards Bronze Medal Winner (YA Fiction category), 2007

Snow Willow Award nominee, 2008

CCBC's Best Books for Kids & Teens, 2008

"Two bestselling authors join forces to write a powerful novel about racism."

A student arrested on suspicions o
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Hardcover, 273 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Fitzhenry & Whiteside (first published September 18th 2007)
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211th out of 1,056 books — 134 voters
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27th out of 102 books — 9 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 706)
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Madeline
Dear Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters:

I get it. Racism is bad. Religious intolerance is bad. In this post-9/11 world we live in, danger can come from anywhere and it's very easy for anyone to be accused of terrorism and this is also bad. I PROMISE, YOU HAVE MADE YOUR POINT.

I understand and respect what you were trying to do with this story - having one of you write from the perspective of a white football player and the other write about a Muslim Afghan boy and then tossing them together at a hig
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James,glen,winston
Nov 09, 2012 James,glen,winston rated it really liked it
I liked this book a lot
Heather Shaw
Nov 04, 2008 Heather Shaw rated it it was amazing
s it a longing for order, ethnic magnetism, or adolescent xenophobia that makes high school lunchrooms such showcases for segregation—or is that “niche societies? At Bifocal’s Central Secondary, a high school in an unnamed Canadian metropolis, there’s a section for the kids from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East called Brown Town. There’s a place over by the doors, nearly outside, for the Goths and “emos,” who are “sort of diet-Goth.” The black kids sit in Cafrica near the Asian kids who dres ...more
Sumayyah
May 16, 2010 Sumayyah rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

I liked it, even though it is VERY flawed, with a few inconsistencies, but it gets the point across (although both authors are white, and far removed from their teenage years).

It could have been done much better, but I still liked it, if only that there are few teen books that deals specifically with this type of racism. (Well, there are books about this, but are almost always written by real Muslims and almost never see a mainstream following.)

Additionally, it deals almost completely w
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Lisa
Jan 13, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
I chose to read this book because a friend recommended it to me. When I realized it was by two very good authors, I was very excited to read it. I found the book somewhat disappointing. Don't get me wrong, I still liked it, but I thought it would be better. The ideas are very timely, and the idea of the story being from two different perspectives is always interesting. I just felt like the writing didn't really grab me. I wonder if that comes from two authors trying to write together? I would st ...more
Begoña Pereda
Nov 23, 2015 Begoña Pereda rated it liked it
This fine piece of literature written by two award winning authors originary from Canada, Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters. Something I really liked about it is that it was written in two perspectives Jay's and Haroon's
Jay's part was written by Eric Walters while Haroon's was written by Deborah Ellis. Jay is a white boy that likes to exercise and Haroon is 3rd generation Canadian Persian who is really intelligent.
The story takes place in three places, Jay's house, Haroon's House and their scho
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Autumn
Jun 15, 2014 Autumn rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kayla
Apr 02, 2016 Kayla added it
Shelves: cl-novels
Summary: This novel divides the point of view of two culturally different boys, Jay and Haroon, and how they view and are viewed when a bomb threat is posted at their high school. Jay is a popular football player where Haroon likes to be an invisible Muslim. We see how both boys are affected by this threat and how they come together to view each other as equals.
Review: I thought this novel was very interesting. This novel really proves that there are two sides to every story and that some will
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Nova
Jan 31, 2014 Nova rated it it was ok
I have really enjoyed Ellis' other books, but somehow couldn't connect with this story. The novel is split into chapters narrated by different characters. I enjoyed this aspect as it gave differing views and perspectives. The book is set in post 9/11 USA and is about racism, religion and loyalty. When tagging: 'Camel jockeys go home', and ham (offensive to Muslims) is strewn around; it seemed too far-fetched to me. Maybe in NZ we are more tolerant or keep our racist thoughts to ourselves. I did ...more
J.S.
Aug 19, 2015 J.S. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-ya, vine
Jay is a relatively new kid at school, but as a good football player he's already managed to integrate himself into the team and the coolest crowd at school. He's even managed to become good friends with the team captain and quarterback, and it looks likely he'll be recommended for captain next year. Haroon is a quiet kid who's a backup for the "Reach for the Top" team, an academic TV competition. He's also a Muslim, his grandparents having emigrated from Afghanistan long before. But things star ...more
Jay Smith
Jan 22, 2014 Jay Smith marked it as to-read
GOOd
Jasmine Hawamdeh
Nov 07, 2011 Jasmine Hawamdeh rated it liked it
Shelves: oct-reads
This book starts off quite confusing but you catch on; this book is by two authors that I really look up to so why wouldn't I pick up this book!? It starts with two boys and you get introduced to them by thinking what they are thinking. The chapters alternate between characters. Jake and Haroon.
Jake is a "typical white boy". He gets decent grades, is on the football team and is pretty popular but nothing un-ordinary. Haroon is a Muslim boy whose parents originated from Afghanistan. Is really sma
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Anna
Jun 04, 2009 Anna rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone
Why isn't anybody/everybody talking about this book?!?!?!

I realize this came out a while ago (2007) and Deborah Ellis is famous in some circles but not others yet I have no idea why this title has not received more publicity and recognition. This book is amazing. Ellis and Walters (they wrote the book together) created an incredibly engaging and thought-provoking novel that, at times, can make you uncomfortable but gets you thinking and asking questions about our own stereotypes and prejudices
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penelopewanders
I found this on a swap shelf at our school and immediately picked it up because I remembered this was used in a class by a former colleague and friend (still a friend, but now far away). To my delight, this is in fact her book, so I can benefit from all her margin notes! Not only did I enjoy the story but at times I could almost hear her voice exclaiming and commenting on the book.
This would be a good one for a class, with the same events observed from very different perspectives. The end is a b
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Lisa
Sep 27, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
A very good book for all ages and people!
There is a lot of mystery in this book, and sometimes you could even call it a scary book.
The thing I liked most about this book are the characters. They are so different but still so alike, and they have two totally different worlds. At the end of the book the characters don't feel like two characters anymore, but turn into one whole, magical character.
This book is one of the best books I've ever read. It is one of those books you don't want to put down
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Pamela
Aug 28, 2014 Pamela rated it liked it
Teen Book Club selection for March. An amazing story told in two voices of two high school students: one white, one brown after the arrests of the "terrorists" in Toronto. It is based on those facts, but it is a fictional story. There are a lot of powerful images and concepts in this book about race, racism, difference, change, and growth.
Bob
Feb 27, 2014 Bob rated it did not like it
This was a terrible novel.
There was no exciting action,
horrible plot line,
boring characters,
extremely racist which is waaaayyyy unrealistic
no setting

In conclusion worst book ever and if
you are trying to raise awareness for
racism you're doing it the wrong way.

1/5 or 2/10

:(
Monica
Jul 22, 2010 Monica rated it it was amazing
This book was a very good read. I felt nervous when I would put it down because I felt lile I left someone in a situation. The book deals or is about two different boys and how their worlds collide.
Both characters are telling the same story,but fromtheir point of view. They both do a great job of explaining what they live due to stero types and clicks in school.
I wonder how many Jays and Haroons are out their? In their own way and live, but int he same idea of worries and problems.
I reallt could
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Karol Sanchez
Apr 11, 2015 Karol Sanchez rated it it was amazing
A different book, one i would not normally read but i did because of school and honestly, i enjoyed it very much. There are two different perspectives of high school in its racist lens along with its other problems. A football athlete and a nerd.
Lizette
Jul 03, 2010 Lizette rated it really liked it
This book takes place in a high school and deals with fear, prejudice and racial tension. The story is alternatley told between two students. Haroon who is a Muslim of Afgani decent and Jay a Christian who is Caucasian. It is evident that their are many "groups" in school and everyone is divided by status and skin color. Most people stick with their groups and do not care to learn about others and respect their differences. I think this is a good book dealing with racial bias that can help stude ...more
Afrah
Jan 30, 2016 Afrah rated it it was amazing
Same as always. Fantastic.
Amy
Nov 27, 2007 Amy rated it liked it
This is the same story told from the viewpoint of two different teenagers from two different cultures with their parts written by two different award-winning authors. (see my complete review here at Amazon.com)

Note: While I critique both purchased and free books in the same way, I'm legally obligated to tell you I received this book free through the Amazon Vine program in return for my review. Blah blah blah.
Worthreading
Nov 27, 2010 Worthreading rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing novel that examines how the war on terror affects students in a large high school. Co-written by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters, it focuses on the lives of two students (one Caucasian and one Islamic). This novel is written in a realistic tone, and there is no obvious antagonist as each character reveals how they are personally struggling with race issues. In summary, this is an honest and thought-provoking book written by two excellent writers.
Sara
Sep 04, 2010 Sara rated it it was amazing
This is an amazing novel that examines how the war on terror affects students in a large high school. Co-written by Deborah Ellis and Eric Walters, it focuses on the lives of two students (one Caucasian and one Islamic). This novel is written in a realistic tone, and there is no antagonist as each character reveals how they are personally struggling with race issues. In summary, this is an honest and thought-provoking book written by two excellent writers.
Sharon
Feb 25, 2010 Sharon rated it liked it
Jay and Haroon are teammates on the football team. At their high school one day, there is a complete lockdown, this is not a drill lockdown. The police, swat team swarm the building and take away Azeem, a Muslim like Haroom. He is accused of terrorist activity. Suddenly the lines between the Muslims and the rest of the student population grow much darker. Haroon finds out he does have the courage to stand up for what is right, no matter who disagrees with him.
Duncan Prescott
Jun 05, 2012 Duncan Prescott rated it it was amazing
Really heart wrenching as the authors allow us to see prejudice and racism from the inside. Both from the POV of the receiver and the perpetrators. Some stereotypical situations as far as the football team is concerned but to see the "Browns" get hit ripped my heart away. I came away with a deep love for Muslims that I know Jesus has. Great book.
Ms. Yingling
Jan 05, 2016 Ms. Yingling added it
Shelves: wndb
I love both of these authors, but this book moved rather slowly. Didn't have enough football.
Olivia
May 26, 2010 Olivia rated it liked it
This book was definately a page turner, just one of those books you can't put down. But it was not an great book. I didn't think the plot connected well at the end and there were many things that were not tied up.

Overall, good book.
Clare
Aug 04, 2011 Clare rated it it was ok
There are some social justice novels that winningly combine story, human characters, and message. Bifocal is not one of them, committing the sin of forgetability as well as leaving logic and human characters beyond. Avoid.
Marianne
Jan 02, 2012 Marianne rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Tracy
Shelves: student-choice
This was a "good read!". I enjoyed the parallel viewpoints and how the two authors worked side by side. It was wonderful how ordinary the two boys were - stereotypical and yet principled. Tracy would enjoybthis.
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Deborah Ellis has achieved international acclaim with her courageous and dramatic books that give Western readers a glimpse into the plight of children in developing countries.

She has won the Governor General's Award, Sweden's Peter Pan Prize, the Ruth Schwartz Award, the University of California's Middle East Book Award, the Jane Addams Children's Book Award and the Vicky Metcalf Award.

A long-t
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