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Paper Chains

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  176 ratings  ·  60 reviews
From the author of critically acclaimed Like Magic comes another sweet middle grade story about friendship, family, and discovering where you fit in the world.

Katie and Ana are the kind of friends who share everything with each other. But there are some things you can’t even share with your best friend.

Katie has always known she was adopted, but recently she’s been wonderi
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 17th 2017 by HarperCollins
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4.16  · 
Rating details
 ·  176 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Rosalyn Eves
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Paper Chains is a charming companion story to Vickers' excellent LIKE MAGIC, following Grace's friend Katie to Boston, where Katie struggles to find her place and worries that voicing questions about her adoption might upset her family dynamics. Her neighbor Ana also worries: worries about the hole left when her father left, and her mother's spiral into depression. The two girls need each other--but first they have to learn to trust each other.

Vickers writes wonderful friendship stories, and the
Luke Reynolds
ARC Review (9/27/17, received from Sarah Prineas)

Actual rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Elaine Vickers impressed me with her debut last year, and she did it again with her follow-up! That's worthy of a round of applause.


Paper Chains easily showcases Vickers' continued strengths as a writer: strong characters that feel real, beautiful writing that's figurative and full of cool symbols, and a deep nuance that reflects how serious the issues she explores are even if they're subtler for a younger audience
Gabrielle Schwabauer
Pros: realistic friendship with enough conflict to be interesting but not so much that I just wanted them to quit being friends. The aftermath of parental abandonment is handled well. Adorable sibling relationship, with bonus friendship between the little boy and his sister's best friend, which is sweet. An actually nuanced portrayal of international adoption that honors the adopted character's "origin story" and her complicated feelings about that without invalidating the love she feels for her ...more
Chantele Sedgwick
Apr 18, 2017 added it
Shelves: own
This book was beautiful. I absolutely loved it.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Katie is haunted by the fact, that although she has very caring and loving parents, she doesn’t know her history, her beginning. This is because she was adopted in Russia when she was two years old. Although the scent of some her mother’s baking bring back some feelings and images from long ago, she knows nothing about her background. She has recently moved to Massachusetts and found a best friend in Ana, a neighbor, who has some struggles of her own. Ana’s father suddenly abandoned the family a ...more
Ms. Yingling
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

Katie was adopted from a Russian orphange at the age of two, and has struggled with health issues caused by a heart transplant at a young age. Her parents are overprotective and don't even want her to ice skate. Her next door neighbor and best friend, Ana, has been dealing with her own difficult issues. Her father, a hockey players, was traded to a team in another city and decided not to bring her family with him. Her younger brother Mikey also struggles wi
Melanie Dulaney
Elaine Vickers, author of Like Magic, has written a wonderful story of family and friendship. Neither are ever perfect and both need constant attention to stay healthy. Those ideas are crystal clear in this heart-warming novel written from the perspectives of two very different fifth grade girls--There's Ana, the hockey playing, active big sister who feels like she has to fix everything and Katie, adopted, heart transplant recipient who feels powerless and like something is missing from her life ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A touching and soulful story of two friends, each trying navigate their way through family struggles. Lovely writing and interweaving of two viewpoints. Can your friends be like your family? Ana and Katie show us this.
Jul 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Katie and Ana are getting to know each other. Katie has secrets since Birth. Ana has secrets since her dad left. They lean on each other to navigate rough waters of family, story, and sense of belonging!
Jan 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
nterest Level: 3-6; Reading Level: 4.7

@kidlitexchange #partner Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book - all opinions are my own.

What if you had not one, but two big secrets from your best friend? Should you tell her and not keep it from her, or keep it to yourself knowing that one day it may be a problem? This is the difficult situation that Katie faces. She wants to tell her best friend, Ana, that she is adopted and that she has a heart issue, but it just never s
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely loved this one! Elaine Vickers has such a distinctive style; I never get the feeling, reading one of her books, that it could've been written by anybody else. PAPER CHAINS has a lovely, pensive voice, and the snowy winter setting was perfect to read in the middle of an Oregon heat wave. Both Katie's and Ana's stories snuck into my heart and stayed there. I enjoyed Vickers' debut, LIKE MAGIC, but I liked this one even more.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this poignant book about friendship, family, and the importance of being honest. It's a sweet tale. A little far-fetched but still a good read that deals realistically with some of the challenges that kids in today's world face and how they can be overcome -- or at least dealt with -- through talking about them openly and honestly.
Michele Knott
Oct 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved this book. It's going to be well-read by middle graders.
My favorite was the ending. It could have been predictable, but instead it was just perfect.
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
We all have that friend. You know the one. Super fun, a little wacky, would do anything for you, might get you to do something you wouldn't otherwise do... They make great book characters! I like to think of these sorts of characters as the catalysts to the great chemical reaction that becomes a fabulous book.

BOOM! Enter Ana-- she storms through your bedroom door, or crashes through a puddle splashing you both, or slams into you as you both excitedly round the hallway corner in search of one ano
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Good story for mid grade school kids! I like that the story has a Russian orphan in it; I rarely find books with Russian children in them and I have some Russian children in my community. Good addition to a library collection, in my opinion.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I had the opportunity to read an ARC of this book that was provided to my #BookRelays group. This middle grade novel tells the stories of two fifth grade girls who are neighbors and best friends.

Katie is new to this Boston neighborhood and she has carried several personal secrets with her from Utah. She was adopted as a baby from Russia and has had a heart transplant. She's starting to wonder about her birth parents and her former life in Russia.

Ana lives nearby and envies Katie’s perfect home
Christina Hanson
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Because every story has a beginning. And the rest of my story can be whatever I want it to be." This quote fits both Katie and Ana perfectly in @elainebvickers latest book, Paper Chains.
Katie is adopted, and she is starting to get more curious about who her birth parents are and where she was born. Ana's family hasn't been the same since her dad left, and she is trying her best to keep things together for the sake of her little brother and her mom. But when tensions begin to rise and secrets a
Cassie Thomas
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story is one that tugged on my heart strings significantly. Katie, who is adopted, struggles with ensuring that her identity is enough. All while her best friend Ana, whose dad left her family, struggles with comparing her life to Katie's "perfect" family. Katie keeps secrets from Ana and finds herself in a few predicaments where she learns the truth is the better way. Ana has a plan to win her dad back, but when something happens that interferes with that plan, she has to accept what famil ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Paper Chains is an engaging middle grade story about the bonds of family and friendship. After unearthing hidden treasures, Katie embarks on a quest for more information about her birth family -- but at what cost to her adoptive family and friendship with her neighbor, Ana? Brave Ana is on her own quest to fix her family after her father left them, but she's convinced that she must undertake this task alone. Driven apart by their secrets, Katie and Ana risk losing each other until they realize t ...more
Andrea Childes
Jul 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is such a sweet fun loving book of two friends, Ana and Katie. Their story starts out with two big secrets they are keeping from each other. To start, I love how the same story is being told from both Katie and Ana's point of view. Ana is so strong willed and kind at the same time. She misses her dad, but soon realizes him leaving is not all a bad as she thought. Kaite also kind, but hates the way her mother treats her as if she's going to break. Both Ana and Katie believe the grass is gree ...more
Nicole Giusto
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ana and Katie are best friends. They are both struggling with family issues; Ana has to be Mom to her little brother Mikey and Katie is internally struggling with being adopted and not knowing her "beginning".

I loved how the story was told with duel perspective, and was drawn in immediately to both girl's struggles, thanks to Elaine Vicker's fabulous and emotion-grabbing writing. Vicker's characters were developed wonderfully and each had an impact on others.

A truly great story about how a fam
Amber Webb
Jul 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Every story has a beginning, but what main characters, Ana and Katie realize is that it's not how your story starts, but what you do with the rest of it that matters. The themes running through this book were profound not only for children, but adults as well. Vickers was writing from the heart as she told the stories of adoption, the meaning of family, loss, mental struggles and much more. Can't wait to share this story with students.
Nicole Otting
Aug 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
What a beautiful story of friendship, finding yourself, inner strength, and that family can mean so many different things. I loved the story of Ana and Katie and how their points of view were portrayed. Elaine is becoming one of my favorite writers to share with students because she has such a knack for pulling at your heartstrings and leaving you with a great story!
Shan Salter
Jan 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
@kidlitexchange #partner #bookstagram #kidlitexchange #kidlit

Paper Chains By Elaine Vickers

Thanks to the @kidlitexchange network for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

Katie recently moved to Boston and became unlikely friends with Ana. Katie seems perfect. She has a loving family, exemplary school grades, and always knows the right thing to say. Ana isn’t even close to perfect. Her family’s falling apart, and her fast temper and adventurous spirit seem to land her in troub
Sep 10, 2018 rated it liked it
Paper Chains is one of the few middle grade or YA books I've read that addresses the complex feelings of adoption loss in a way that honors the adoptee's natural curiosity about and connection to her first family while acknowledging the emotional weight the adoptee feels obliged to carry in avoiding alienating or hurting her adoptive parents. This storyline was handled beautifully, with sensitivity and insight.

I think the storyline of having two best friends alienated by the secrets they keep fr
Jul 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you @kidlitexchange for the review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.

This middle grade story is about friendship, adoption, broken families and trust. It’s told from two different perspectives. Katie is shy, hesitant and a people pleaser. She has very loving parents who provide her with a stable, comforting life. She knows she’s adoptive, but it’s never really discussed and she definitley hasn’t shared that secret with anyone. While reflecting about thankfulness during the holida
Jayme Carruthers
@KidLitExchange #partner

Thank you to the #KidLitExchange network for the review copy of Paper Chains. All opinions are my own.

Ana and Katie are best friends, but there are secrets that neither girl has shared. Katie was adopted as a baby, but she's worried that talking about it makes it seem like she's not grateful for the parents she has. She also hasn't told Ana about her heart condition, which is becoming harder and harder to make excuses for.

Meanwhile, Ana's parents have split up and she w
Apr 23, 2018 rated it liked it
Despite their differences Katie and Ana enjoy their new found friendship and are looking forward to Thanksgiving Break, but it is tested by the unshared pains of each girl as they struggle with personal and family problems. Ana’s family is emotionally broken with the sudden absence of her father and appearance of her strict Babushka while Katie struggles with being adopted and being a heart transplant survivor with an over protective mother. Each girl must learn to trust each other with their pa ...more
Eve beinguniquebooks
Oct 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Katie and Ana are best friends with secrets.

Both girls may be of Russian decent but Katie hides the fact she's adopted and has had a heart transplant whilst Ana hates the fact her dad had left her family and her mum is a shell of her former self leaving her kids to rely on each other.

Throughout the book we see how family can be many forms as well as how secrets can be revealed at the best of times to help a situation and just how dangerous life can be too. The title was really interesting and th
May 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Thank you to the Kid Lit Exchange network for a copy of this book! As always, all opinions are my own.

3.5 Stars

Paper Chains tells a story of friendship, family, divorce, adoption, and honesty. The characters of Katie and Ana will be relatable to middle grade readers, as will the feelings they have and the situations they find themselves in. There are few books out there for this age group that address the hard feelings that come with divorce or being adopted, and the author does a great job of
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Elaine Vickers lives with her husband and three kids in Southern Utah, where she writes books and teaches college chemistry. She always wanted to be a writer and a teacher, except when she wanted to be an architect, an artist, a pediatrician, a judge, or a famous actress. Visit her at for book recommendations, science activities, and ideas for starting your own backyard book club ...more
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