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Unstoppable Octobia May

3.42  ·  Rating details ·  613 ratings  ·  155 reviews
Octobia May is girl filled with questions. Her heart condition makes her special - and, some folks would argue, gives this ten-year-old powers that make her a "wise soul." Thank goodness for Auntie, who convinces Octobia's parents to let her live in her boarding house that is filled with old folks. That's when trouble, and excitement, and wonder begin. Auntie is non-tradit ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published September 30th 2014 by Scholastic Press
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Kaitlin Harrington Yes but it would not have the same effect! I believe the year setting is a big factor as the way she expected to behave/dress, the boarding house whic…moreYes but it would not have the same effect! I believe the year setting is a big factor as the way she expected to behave/dress, the boarding house which is not as popular, and the racial issues. (less)

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Average rating 3.42  · 
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 ·  613 ratings  ·  155 reviews

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Jul 07, 2015 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: Nobody
Recommended to Carmen by: Library
Vampires are not the nicest people. Maybe that happens when you live forever and don't get enough sun. So when I pass Mr. Davenport's bedroom door, I tiptoe, making my bare feet quiet as cotton balls tossed on the floor. Vampires can hear your thoughts and dreams, don't you know. So I'm not surprised when Mr. Davenport comes out wanting to kill me. I was dead once myself. I shouldn't let him scare me. But right now, I could wet my britches.

This book wasn't very good.

Octobia May is a 10-year-old
Jan 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites

This book right here, was incredible, heartbreaking, and full of mystery and heart. Octobia May wants nothing more than for everyone to believe her when she thinks Mr. Davenport, a young-war hero staying at her aunt's boarding house is a vampire. But no one will give her the time of day. She only has her best friend Jonah, new friend Bessie, and loving cat Juppie to keep her company and help her along the way to figure out this mystery. But if you're looking for a straight up MYSTERY, y
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bipoc-author, audio
This book has the most bonkers publisher’s blurb I have ever read in my life. It describes all the serious issues main character Octobia is dealing with as a black girl growing up in the 1950s, sent to live with her scandalously single and entrepreneurial aunt after a health scare. It lists all kinds of heavy topics, like racism, passing as white, equality for women...and then comes this line, and yes, I’m quoting: “And, perhaps most important: Do vampires really exist?”

WHAT?!?! I don’t know abo
Several months back, we were at a bookstore and Gabe saw this book. He handed it to me and said, "This looks like something you'd read" and, by golly, he was right! I mean, just look at that cover! Creepy house. Girl in 50's-type dress looking ready to do stuff. And her name! Octobia? YES! Yes, I wanted to read this book.
So I did. At least, I tried. I got more than halfway through.
Unfortunately, I could not get into this at all. I was confused by the narrator's voice because her thoughts skip ar
Feb 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young children who are into history
I just want to say for the record that this was a cover buy. I mean come on look at it. Then I want to go on and say that when you pick up this book to remember that it is a children's book.

I read this book thinking that it was going to be a young girl on a supernatural mystery thrill ride. While it was a book about a young girl and an adventure, the supernatural part was not all that present, and for spoiler reason, I won't say why. I read this book for #MarchMysteryMadness, and I'm not disapp
Kaethe Douglas
Natasha read it and loved it and passed it on to me. And I'm glad she did. It took me a little while to get used to Octobia's voice: her sentences are often short, and given her fantastic imagination it can sometimes be a challenge to figure out what she's saying. But those are smallish quibbles about a fantastic book. Octobia is living in her aunt's boarding house where she is allowed rather more freedom than her own parents are willing to give her after a catastrophic heart problem. She is imm ...more
Aug 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: mid-reader, arc

I really liked so much about this book and yet some parts towards the ending just didn't sit right. Goods deeds in the past don't always outweigh bad in the future--to say more would be a spoiler but I'd be curious how others thought about it.
Ms. Yingling
Jul 24, 2014 rated it it was ok
Octobia lives with her Aunt Shuma because her delicate health frightens her parents. Her aunt runs a boarding house, and Octobia is obsessed with one of the residents, Mr. Davenport, a writer whom she believes to be a vampire. Octobia spends a lot of time in the local graveyard and is a fanciful child, but Shuma lets her run wild through the neighborhood, sometimes wearing boys' clothes. Her best friend is Jonah, with whom she gets into all kinds of trouble, and she tries to befriend new neighbo ...more
Becky Birtha
There are many unexpected things about Sharon Flake's character, Octobia May. She was born with Ectopia Cordis, a rare condition in which the heart is outside the body. She describes a later near death experience during surgery as "when I died." She lives with her Aunt Shuma, who is a feminist ahead of her time in the early 1950s, and is raising Octobia May to be one as well. Octobia knows that she has a lot more freedom than most girls her age. A one-of-a-kind original, Octobia May believes in ...more
Oct 11, 2014 rated it it was ok
Octobia May lives with her Aunt Shuma who runs a boarding house. Octobia is obsessed with Mr. Davenport, one of the boarders. She believes he is a vampire for much of the book. Octobia and her best friend Jonah start following Mr. Davenport and belief he killed a girl. No one believes them until Mr. Davenport and banker Mr. Harrison try to railroad Shuma when she goes for a loan. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue in this book as Octobia and Jonah try to figure out what is going on with Mr. ...more
Saba N  Taylor
Oct 30, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Unstoppable Octobia May. The author took really tough topics, Jim Crow, Holocaust survivors, Racism, inequality, war and weaved a really captivating story. Through Octobia May, we learn what it was like for a girl of color in her time. You really can't help but root for a young girl who is ready for change and willing to put her life on the line for it.

The story is set the 50's when African Americans were fighting for equality and women and girls had a 'place' in society. The story fol
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a good book, but I don’t think the synopsis properly prepares you for what it is about. I believe this could be a hard one to go into, without reading the synopsis, but just know that it is only part of the story.

Octobia was a well-rounded character. She is, spunky, inquisitive and has a very good imagination. I loved that her Aunt Shuma basically saved this girl from a very limited existence, and allowed her to live the life of an active child. My only issue was I think the thoughts sh
Kayla Reed
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was my 3rd audio book experience & my faith in audio books has been restored. I haven't read a middle grade novel in a while so I was a little scared I wasn't going to like this but god was I wrong.

Sadly, it did take me about 8 chapters to get into the story but that could have been due to me doing other stuff while I was listening to this and possibly nothing to so with the actual plot.

I laughed so hard at Octobia's & Jonah's shenanigans it was ridiculous and I was pretty invested in the
Jan 08, 2021 rated it it was ok
I wanted to love this book, but I think I was just a bit too old for it. Trigger warnings: animal abuse, animal cruelty, animal death

Own voices; Black history; general history; excellent audiobook reader; explores racism's many faces; shows that family isn't always just your blood relations; imaginative, spunky heroine who is being raised to expect freedom and respect.

There was an awful lot of history packed into this book, and at times it seemed to interrupt the flow of the story.
Sep 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: audiobook
This book is absolutely terrible. My daughter somehow managed to not mind it but please stay away. It’s all over the place and rather dark for a children’s book, and throws in pretty heavy topics as complete random asides that don’t get any attention or explanation.
Watch Books
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was ok
To be honest I didn't make it past the first quarter of the book. Maybe not even the first five chapters?

It was really confusing to follow our main characters narration, and I didn't know what was internal, external, past, present, true, or "wild imagination. The vampire thing threw me off, and could have been cute if it had ended about two or three chapters earlier. And from the looks of it, it was going to be around a good while.

Last straw for me (and it was totally my fault) was the themes. A
Feb 15, 2015 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: historical fiction fans. I guess.
This is more like a 2.5 star book, rounded up to 3 stars. I think that some of the problems I and others have had with the book is I'm guessing it is supposed to be the first of a mystery series and the author was laying down the foundation for the series which caused this book to drag a lot. Octobia May is a girl who has a lot of trouble separating her fantasies from real life. She is convinced that a man boarding at her Aunt's boarding house is a vampire and insists on it until she actually se ...more
Jul 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
There were many things I liked about this book and a few things I did not. On the positive side, I really enjoyed Octobia May and her friend Jonah. Octobia May is a girl full of spunk and curiosity who relishes the freedom living with her aunt gives her after being smothered by her parents after nearly dying. Unfortunately, she tends to misuse her freedom to spy on one of her aunt's boarders, Mr. Davenport and she drags her friend Jonah into her misadventures. Her determination to prove Mr. Dave ...more
May 30, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: awards
This book is not foreveryone. Some may read it and love it and others may very much dislike it. What is comes down to is the style rather than the story. The story itself is thoughtful and full of history. The story takes place in the 1950's right before the Civil Rights movement. There are many reference to how things started to build up and what it was like to be black in the 1950's. Some people could be successful, but not as successful as they would like because the bank would not allow mone ...more
Octobia sees things with a child like view. She talks about “having been dead once herself”, and is overly fascinated with the idea that Mr. Davenport is a vampire. Mr. Davenport is certainly a mysterious, shady character but there really doesn't seem to be a reason for Octobia to believe he is a vampire. She also drops the idea when the plot of bank robbery and murder begins to unfold, so I'm not particularly sure why the idea was included in the overall plot. However, there were many things to ...more
Jun 25, 2014 added it
Shelves: slj-review
Read and reviewed for School Library Journal 09/01/2014.

Gr 3–6—Octobia May has an untamed imagination. When she moves in with her Auntie Shuma, Octobia spends her days doing chores with her pretend servant friends, talking to the graves of the Before Girls at the nearby cemetery, and trying to unveil one of Auntie's boarders, Mr. Davenport, as the vampire he is. With the help of her friends, Jonah and Bessie, Octobia uncovers the dastardly deeds of Mr. Davenport, although the deeds have more to
3.5 stars. The book is about a spunky African-American girl named Octobia May, who has a very vivid imagination and is living with her aunt in the 1950s. As her aunt puts it, Octobia May is struggling to learn her "place" in the house, as a girl, as an African-American during segregation. Octobia is constantly on the lookout for thieves, criminals and other sordid individuals, as her penchant for Nancy Drew novels and spy stories in insatiable. However, Octobia becomes embroiled in a real-life c ...more
Oct 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014, blog, audio
Originally posted here

Unstoppable Octobia May is the story of Octobia May, who is a ten-year-old that, contrary to those around her, never stops asking questions. She is intrigued about everything, like most ten-year-olds are and Flake works on that. Throughout the story, I felt that Flake had a firm grasp on the character of Octobia. I related to her (even though we have nothing in common) and I understood why she was the way she was.

Which included living at a boarding house with her Auntie, wh
Subjected to dangerous heart surgery at birth, Octobia May lives with her Aunt Shuma, due to her delicate health. Because she has been close to death, “having been dead once myself,” Octobia spends a lot of time thinking about death in the local graveyard and reading murder mysteries. Shuma lets her run wild, and as a result Octobia is independent, strong-willed, and quirky. She is also very observant and has noted that one of her Aunt’s boarders, Mr. Davenport, behaves oddly.

Octobia becomes con
Listening to Unstoppable Octobia May was a mixed experience. The characters are terrific -- each distinctive and complex -- and the audiobook performer did an excellent job voicing them. The discussion of "passing" is developmentally appropriate, and certainly it's a topic rarely seen in children's literature. (I can't think of another example.) Once the adventure truly begins, the pace picks up, with many heart-stopping moments; comparisons to Nancy Drew are apt, and at the best of times I was ...more
Monica Fastenau
Dec 09, 2014 rated it liked it
This book is not what I thought it was going to be–I thought it was going to be about vampires, but instead it’s about a girl named Octobia May, who is described by her aunt as the freest ten-year-old African-American girl in the 1950s. Her Auntie and her friend Jonah are by turns pleased with and aggravated by her constant snooping around and her big imagination. Octobia May thinks that her Auntie’s boarders is a vampire (thus my initial impression of the book–but there’s nothing supernatural i ...more
Sanne (SignedbySanne)
I really enjoyed the historical setting and learning more about racial issues in 1950's USA. I think the characters were quite well done and I really cared a lot for Octobia and her Auntie especially.

However, because the author was so focused on giving the reader these messages about racism and sexism (which I think she did a good job of explaining in a way that children can understand, because it was all from Octobia's perspective), it kind of took away from the mystery plot-line. The long mon
Bestselling and award-winning author, Sharon G. Flake, delivers a mystery set in the 1950s that eerily blends history, race, culture, and family.

Octobia May is girl filled with questions. Her heart condition makes her special - and, some folks would argue, gives this ten-year-old powers that make her a "wise soul." Thank goodness for Auntie, who convinces Octobia's parents to let her live in her boarding house that is filled with old folks. That's when trouble, and excitement, and wonder begin.
Moving backward in time to the 1950s, the author spins a mystery that contains elements of race, gender, and power. Octobia May, a smart, feisty youngster, is convinced that there is something suspicious about one of her Aunt Shuma's tenants. With the help of two friends, she eventually solves the mystery while realizing that human beings are complex and that sometimes bad individuals do good things and good individuals do evil things. While I liked Octobia from the start, it took me some time t ...more
Apr 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Octobia May lives with her Aunt Shuma who runs a boarding house. Her determination gets her into trouble when she stumbles onto the secrets of her Aunt’s border and the local bank manager.

Set in the 1950’s, historical issues surrounding race and politics are central to the mystery. Her Aunt sees that the future holds more possibilities for Octobia, just as she can see that the past and current situations hold her back from her own ambitions as an hotelier. Octobia’s character must confront racis
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Sharon G. Flake is the author of five books, The Skin I'm In (1998), Money Hungry (2002), Begging for Change (2003), Who Am I Without Him? Short Stories About Boys and the Girls in Their Lives (2004), Bang! (Sept. 2005), and her latest novel The Broken Bike Boy and the Queen of 33rd Street (2007).

Her work is used in public and private schools around the nation, from elementary to high school, and

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