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A Kind of Paradise

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Jamie Bunn made a mistake at the end of the school year. A big one. And every kid in her middle school knows all about it. Now she has to spend her summer vacation volunteering at the local library—as punishment. It may be boring, but at least she’ll be able to hide from mean girl Trina, who’s always had it out for her, and beautiful Trey, the boy at the root of her big mistake.

Or so she thinks.

Not only does her job bring her face-to-face with both her mortal enemy and her ultimate crush, Jamie also encounters a territorial patron, an elderly movie fanatic, a super-tall painter who loves to bake, and a homeless dog. Over the course of the summer, as Jamie gets to know the library and the people in it, she finds—and gives—help where she least expects it.

And she just might find herself along the way.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published April 30, 2019

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Amy Rebecca Tan

2 books63 followers

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 199 reviews
Profile Image for Fatma Al Zahraa Yehia.
437 reviews481 followers
March 31, 2023
A sweet and sincere writing from a devoted librarian who made us fall in love more and more with libraries.

Library is not just a place for lending books for free. Library is a sanctuary for lonesome, neglected, heartbroken and homeless human beings who have no such safe haven.

The library saved a teenage girl who thought the world ended when she was publicly punished. The library saved an old man from dying alone. Library gave a homeless person a purpose and a chance at a better life. The library gave its town and its community a lot that couldn't be easily forgotten, and that is why it wasn't easy for that town to leave that place without saving.

It was heartwarming to see how the three librarians were passionate to care about their patrons while keeping a safe and "professional" space that wouldn't disturb the privacy of their library visitors' lives.

As a librarian, it was work that made me more proud of my profession and more appreciative to get the chance that made me a librarian. Those three librarians were an example of what I wish to be remembered and achieve.
Profile Image for Katie Ziegler (Life Between Words).
392 reviews957 followers
March 28, 2020
A sweet middle grade love letter to libraries! Cozy and delightful. I may have rated it five stars had I read it sometime other than in the midst of a pandemic when libraries are closed and people are socially distancing. I was having some serious cognitive dissonance. But, it was still the sweetest!
Profile Image for Dee Dee G.
505 reviews7 followers
June 28, 2019
This was a cozy middle grade read. I loved the library as the main setting. To me this was about making things right after a mistake and moving forward. Also a good lesson of things turning out better than we think they will.
Profile Image for Beth Bonini.
1,291 reviews279 followers
May 23, 2020
I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library. Jorge Luis Borges

When life seems overwhelming, there is something incredibly comforting about reading a crackerjack ‘middle grade’ book. The best ones always impart life lessons about growing up, but unlike adult books, they can generally be counted on to serve up those lessons with humour, charm, optimism and the satisfying sense that things will work out in the end. In a children’s book, things ‘working out’ means that the most positive human qualities count for something. Kindness, courage, standing up for the underdog - any embodiment of love, really - can be guaranteed to win out over the uglier, pettier side of human nature. Life may not always be fair, but good gets to triumph over evil every time.

You played cards you didn’t have and you lost. I know it hurts, but that’s how you learn. In fact, that may be the very best way to learn. ~Jamie Bunn’s mom to Jamie.

Endings aren’t there to please you. Endings happen the way they do for a reason. ~Beverly, Foxfield librarian, to Jamie.

There are two main strands to this story. One of them involves the story’s protagonist, 13 year old Jamie Bunn. At the beginning of the story, we learn that Jamie has been assigned a summer’s worth of volunteering at the local library as her ‘punishment’ for breaking her school’s honour code. Over the course of the book, the story of Jamie’s mistake is slowly leaked to the reader. The other strand of the story involves the library itself - its cast of characters (both staff and ‘regulars’, all of them wonderful) and its survival. Like so many libraries, the Foxfield Library is under threat because of budget cuts. The ‘friends’ of the library make it their mission to make sure it survives, and Jamie becomes one of those friends.

At the beginning of the story, Jamie feels alone, humiliated and isolated. As she becomes connected to her co-workers at the library, she starts to feel like she is part of an important community.

Although Jamie’s story will draw in the readers this book is aimed at, more mature readers will certainly understand that this book is also a love letter to libraries - and an argument in favour of their importance to a community. There are two regular visitors to the Foxfield Library who are especially needy, partly because they are isolated and lonely - just like Jamie. One of them ends up getting a chance at improving his life because of the library, while the other provides an unexpectedly heroic turn for the library.

“We’ve been helping him. He needs the library, and we keep it here for him. We welcome him. We didn’t need to know his story to help him.” Lenny paused, then added,”We just need to remember that everyone has one.”

Profile Image for Brandy Painter.
1,603 reviews227 followers
November 8, 2019
I don't know how many kids out there will want to read a quiet, introspective book about the politics of public libraries and their usage, but this is a good one. It's one of those books that when it finds the right reader will be a favorite. It's just getting it into the right hands. I did have some questions about how on earth the middle school in this town operates. (Jane Eyre. Really?)
Profile Image for vanessa.
981 reviews150 followers
March 29, 2020
4.5. My library-loving heart is full. (I miss the library!)

This was a really cozy, sweet ode to public libraries, public library workers, and those regular patrons that frequent libraries. I loved the main character Jamie, an older tween incredibly embarrassed by something she did. The mortification is so real; I remember those days. But ultimately, her punishment is a good thing, as she discovers what working at the library is like. This is a soft and slower-paced book, but those are often my favorite kinds of books.
Profile Image for Hymerka.
598 reviews101 followers
September 12, 2019
Тепла і, як пишуть в анотації, дійсно heartwarming книжка (до речі, як це перекласти українською? може, сердечна?) для середнього шкільного віку.
Школярка Джеймі через проступок у школі змушена відпрацювати літо волонтеркою у місцевій бібліотеці. Спершу Джеймі сприймає це як ув'язнення, вона ж бо вважає, що приниження, якого вона зазнала, вже й так достатнє покарання. Та поступово її ставлення до цих "громадських робіт" теплішає: у бібліотеці вона знаходить друзів, натхнення і підтримку, і зрештою бере активну участь у кампанії на підтримку книгозбірні, якій загрожує закриття. Це історія про те, що бібліотека — це більше, ніж книжки. Тут це серце спільноти. Добра легенька історія з багатьма цитатами від відомих авторів, як та з Борхеса, що винесена у назву, проте трохи занадто передбачувана. Особливо мені не сподобалося те deux ex machina вирішення проблем із грішми наприкінці: після всіх тих зусиль, які доклали працівники і відвідувачі бібліотеки для її врятування отой "спадок від дядечка" виглядає поганим смаком.
Profile Image for Laurence.
188 reviews20 followers
February 7, 2021
This is a love letter to libraries/librarians everywhere.

I must admit, I have not been to my local library since I was a kid, and this made me want to go back and renew my library card.

In my opinion, this is a very slow read, because there isn’t really anything happening for most of the story. This is definitely a character based read. Thankfully, the characters were pretty memorable for the most part (especially two of the regulars that come in every week).
Profile Image for Kathie.
Author 2 books66 followers
March 10, 2019
Thank you to Edelweiss+ for an eARC of this book.

This was a very sweet, character-driven story for library lovers. I loved watching Jamie’s confidence grow throughout the summer as her wonderful mentors helped her realize some important life lessons. It inspires me to go to back to work at my library tomorrow with an open heart, and a willingness to listen.
Profile Image for Renee.
396 reviews1 follower
April 30, 2019
A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan is heart warming, engaging. The characters are unique and the story itself kept me wanting to read more of it. It highlights the angst of not so great choices, their consequences and what it takes to overcome them. Add in a bit of librarian romance and I was hooked. I was also amazed at how Ms. Tan captured the essence, feelings and challenges of a being a 10 year old girl ~ she was truly spot on!

My favorite part of this book is the library and the people who worked there. I loved how the book showed the effect the library, the books and those dedicated workers had in helping to change the lives of those who came in. On the flip side, well … I’ll leave it for you to find out what happens!

My final thoughts?

A Kind of Paradise is a delightful, heartwarming read. I highly recommend it ~ 4.5 Stars!

I received this book for free. A favorable review was not required and all views expressed are my own. Thank you to Ms. Tan, Harper Collins and Edelweiss for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Profile Image for Janelle.
100 reviews1 follower
May 24, 2019
This was a wonderful book about a library! I loved reading about all the characters and the daily adventures at the library. I work at a library so I appreciated all her details that she included!
Profile Image for Aly.
2,614 reviews
January 31, 2022
Awh, I really liked this story! Jamie is a thirteen year old who made a mistake at school and is now volunteering at the library as punishment. While she works, she meets several great people including an elderly man who comes every Tuesday, a mysterious man who's claimed his spot, and friendly library workers. Jamie learns to move forward from her past, make new friends, and join the community to save the library.

As a kid, I would have loved to volunteer all summer at the library. Dream come true lol. I was so happy to see Jamie form a sort of found family, she needed people by her side that she could rely on. There are funny parts and sad parts and it all comes together to make a fantastic story! I look forward to more books from this author.
Profile Image for Lorelei Angelino.
104 reviews4 followers
August 30, 2022

This was such a cuteeeee book!! Just look at that cover...it's so pretty! (I thought it was funny that I finished reading it on August 29th, which was the same day that the book ended on.)

Pretty much the only thing that I had a problem with was when they used God's name in vain.

Profile Image for Liana Grace.
235 reviews
February 23, 2022
The library love is strong in this one! Is serving your community service volunteering at a library punishment or a magical, life-changing experience? Read and find out my middle-grade readers.
Profile Image for Shannon.
4,022 reviews187 followers
September 10, 2021
This was a really charming middle grade story about a 13 year old girl who gets sentenced to volunteer in her public library for the summer after she makes an embarrassing mistake everyone at her school knows about. While there she falls in love with the patrons and all the library has to offer. A book to help young readers appreciate the potential of their local libraries and help fight to keep them open. Highly recommend and great on audio!
Profile Image for Bookworman.
816 reviews99 followers
October 21, 2021
I loved, LOVED this book! I loved the story, I loved the characters, I loved learning about “spine poetry”, I loved the famous quotes that were integrated into the story, and then, to top it off, all the references to “Jane Eyre”! Awesome, awesome book!

Thank you, Dee Dee G, for having this on your booklist! I would never had known about it otherwise.😊💕
Profile Image for Christy.
654 reviews
March 29, 2022
Middle Grade March! I absolutely couldn't wait to read this book because it had so much to do with Libraries (My happy place!).

Jamie Bunn has gotten into a spot of trouble at school, and she is humiliated about it. She is forced to spend her entire summer vacation volunteering at the library, and she isn't very excited about that to begin with... but at least she can hide out from all her shame.

The title to this book is perfect. I also consider the library a "Kind of Paradise". It's one of my happy places, and somewhere I often like to go to just get away. Jamie deals with a lot of regular Library patrons over the summer and does a lot of growing up along the way. I wasn't wowed by this book, but overall, I did enjoy it.
Profile Image for Emily.
25 reviews
June 23, 2020
If you love your library then you’ll love this book! I enjoyed the characters, the storyline and how Tan scattered famous literary quotes throughout. Tan uses story to remind us how important and essential libraries are and what they do for people. I know after reading this it makes me miss our library that much more. Can’t wait to visit my happy place again soon.
Profile Image for Ben French.
17 reviews2 followers
January 25, 2020
What starts as a fairly normal teen drama book and coming of age story quickly turns into a love letter to public libraries and the role they play in a community. Highlighted through throwing more focus on the individuals that visit it. Including the lead character Jamie Bunn forced into work she later enjoys because of a stupid mistake.

Overall it's a sweet book and as a public librarian I find the messages it gives wholesome and important in the current climate of budget cuts and closures.
Profile Image for Hazel (and Nutsy).
214 reviews1 follower
May 8, 2021
I loved it! This is my picture of a perfect story. There were at least 8 mini stories that made up the big idea: saving the library. They all wrapped up nicely in a happy ending. The characters are wonderful, and I can't think of any way to describe it other than: Oh. Just so good.
Profile Image for Shannon Navin.
142 reviews18 followers
September 25, 2020
If you are a book nerd like me, you have to love a book that reads like love letter to libraries! Add in a quirky, lovable cadre of characters and a strong sense of what it means to be a middle schooler and you have the absolute winner that is A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan.

Tan’s story features Jamie, a middle school girl who has gotten into trouble (and been humiliated about it by a classmate) at the end of the school year. Because of her transgression, she’s been ‘sentenced’ to community service at the local library for the summer. Initially, Jamie dreads her service work and avoids even being seen out in public (so deep is her shame about the situation that she created at school…not-much-of-a-spoiler-alert: it involves a boy!)

As the summer moves along, however, Jamie becomes more and more interested in the library staff and its patrons and begins to develop deep and meaningful relationships with the ‘quirky characters’ I mentioned above. The local library in which she is volunteering is strapped for money and on the mayor’s chopping block. Jamie is uniquely situated to be able to see exactly what the library means to her community and the people within it and comes to discover that the library is extremely important to her too. Poignant and funny interludes between Jamie and the library crew abound in this book and are well worth the price of admission. You’ll come to love each member of the staff and ‘library regular’ that Jamie gets to know. As I said, if you love books…and especially libraries…you’re going to love this book!

I was also extremely fond of the way that Tan portrays Jamie. She’s mature for her age but also makes the kind of mistakes that someone in middle school would make. She’s beset with trouble from ‘mean girls’ who don’t want to allow her to forget her public humiliation from the school year and holding onto a serious crush on the brother of one of those girls. Having lived through a stage where I dreaded ‘mean girls’ every day, the way that Tan described Jamie’s comfort was absolutely palpable to me. If you’ve been tortured by your own set of ‘mean girls,’ you’ll understand Jamie right away…if you haven’t, there’s a phenomenal opportunity to understand the dynamic within this book!

Jamie’s parents and aunt are alluded to within the story but never present within the ‘action.’ Nevertheless, the relationship that Jamie has with her mother and the way she describes what she has learned from her is heartwarming and hopeful. While it’s clear that Jamie and her mom haven’t had it easy, it’s also evident that Jamie’s mom has worked very hard to raise her well and that the relationship between them definitely reflects that!

There are a number of subplots within A Kind of Paradise (a library romance, a couple of tragedies, a life rebound story and the story of saving the library itself) and all of them contribute to the color with which we see the library and it’s impact on the community. I sometimes find multiple ‘side stories’ distracting and unnecessary in a book with a strong plot but not this time: the subplots only added to the strength of the story of Jamie’s summer.

While this book is definitely appropriate and highly recommended for Middle Grade readers, don’t hesitate to read it yourself if you appreciate a good story, well told. A Kind of Paradise is sweet and satisfying…it will either bring back memories of a time of great growth in your own life or help you understand the growth trajectory of folks around you. Either way, it’s a quick read and a solid investment of time. Read it to enjoy…finish it to understand!
Profile Image for Ragon Duffy.
396 reviews
February 15, 2020
I read this out loud to Alice and we both really enjoyed it. It was different from our usual reads of more fantastical books and this kind of quiet, realistic fiction was a nice thing for us to share. Some of the themes around bullying and crushes and homelessness were nice ways for us to talk about some new topics and I appreciated that it was subtle in its messaging rather than obvious.
Profile Image for Afoma (Reading Middle Grade).
580 reviews302 followers
March 21, 2021
A Kind of Paradise is unique in the way it’s written. Author Amy Rebecca Tan writes Jamie’s experience with each person she meets, titling related chapters by the individual’s name. So a few chapters are titled “Trina,” “Sonia,” “Beverly,” and the like. The book’s subject matter is also unique. It is clearly a love letter to libraries everywhere, and as Jamie discovers, “libraries are more than just books.”

The protagonist is achingly human and readers will recognize in Jamie the struggles of being young and navigating crushes. I enjoyed this book which includes interesting library patrons, an excellent single mother, and library employees who create spine poetry for fun. Overall, A Kind of Paradise is perfect for library-lovers, anyone who’s ever had a crush, and fans of Jane Eyre.

Full review here https://readingmiddlegrade.com/a-kind...
Profile Image for Dana.
250 reviews1 follower
May 1, 2019
I loved this book! It was such a cozy read, and is a total love letter to libraries. Additionally, this is a great read for kids who are having trouble moving on after making a mistake-there are great lessons within it!
35 reviews
July 11, 2019
Tan so very accurately depicts life in a public library....the laughs, the sorrows, the worries and the joy. A wonderful read from start to finish!
Profile Image for Bell Of The Books.
226 reviews2 followers
February 10, 2022
I wanted to love this book more.
I liked it, as it was all about a middle school girl that has to "serve time" (volunteer) at her local small library for a school mishap (cheating).
It was a slow read, as it is just very...juvenile (but it IS a JFic, so what else should it be?!) so it took me longer than I prefer to get through a book.
Imagine reading an American Girl book, that's what this kinda felt like. Not bad, but slightly cheesy.

But as I say, I still "liked" it.
I liked that it was entirely about working in, learning about and saving a library while finding oneself along the way.

Jamie has to spend the entire summer as a volunteer in the library, along the way meeting some wonderful and interesting people, while also seeing what really goes on in a library...

"So there's a lot more to running a library than people know, its not just about the books and movies and magazines. That's the fun part, the books, movies, the organizing." (says Jamie to the library director)

The crux of the story is that the mayor is going to shut the library down, as always is the case, due to funding. As you'd guess, the story and the library gets saved - just like an American Girl story - by a beloved patron, who passes away of a stroke - in the library! - who wills tons of money to the library.

Along the way, it is endearing how young Jamie finds herself and regains her confidence with the help of fellow library workers and regular patrons, and of course BOOKS!

I want to end with these from the end of the book, that give us all the quotes from the big comfy chair "the black hat guy" sits in each day. ( I want a reading chair like this one!!)

To be or not to be - William Shakespeare
Call me Ishmael - Herman Melville
Quoth the raven "Nevermore" - Edgar Allen Poe
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams - W.B. Yeats
What is essential is invisible to the eye -Antonie de Saint-Exupery
Time changes everything except something within us which is always surprised by change - Thomas Hardy
Not all who wander are lost - J.R.R. Tolkien
I have been bent and broken but - I hope - into a better shape - Charles Dickens
If you look for perfection, you'll never be content - Leo Tolstoy
To err is human, to forgive, divine - Alexander Pope
Wait for the common sense of the morning - H.G. Wells
It is no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then - Lewis Carroll
I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library - Jorge Luis Borges

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Becca.
298 reviews25 followers
May 18, 2020
You think middle grade is a safe bet when you’re trying to consume light and fluffy media because 2020 is putting you through it? Wrong, this book attacked me in my own home, which I am still leaving as little as possible.

A Kind of Paradise is a book about how important public libraries are to the community, how many small and big things they do for so many. How they provide opportunities to learn and grow and change, how they provide comfort and fun. How they let people both escape the world and connect with one another. They provide people things they can’t find anywhere else, for free. Public libraries are quite literally a lifeline for many of society’s most vulnerable.

A Kind of Paradise is also about how hard public libraries often have to fight for even a scrap of economic stability. It’s about disconnects between the ornate gilded past and current shoestring budgets. It’s about how some dismiss the library as irrelevant in the 21st Century, as no longer necessary or worth it. As a public library employee both yearning for and terrified of reopening our doors to the public during an epidemic, amidst sweeping funding cuts, it hit way too close to home (where I am).

This book is a good depiction of work in a public library—you can tell the author has firsthand experience. It’s rarely glamorous, it’s often gross. You encounter a lot of aggravation that has nothing to do with you. You treat people with more patience and dignity than they might ever show you. You listen, both to sympathize and solve. You enforce policies equitably, which sometimes includes making exceptions. But I tell you what, there’s nothing more gratifying that helping an elderly patron print off photos of their granddaughter, who, they’ll have you know, just placed second in the school science fair. You can’t convince me otherwise.
Profile Image for Mia.
497 reviews2 followers
July 16, 2021
A beautiful coming-of-age novel about a girl who must learn to forgive herself, love her peers, and find her place in the world. What an exceptional book! I loved every part of this... The characters were so real and the descriptions were so detailed. This is truly one of those books that you lose yourself in. Even though the plot was slow and easy, I found myself racing to finish the book simply because I loved all of the characters so much. Tan formatted the book in a unique way. In each chapter, Jamie learns something new about someone--either one of the library staff or one of the library patrons, and Tan titles the chapter by that person's name. Even the characters who are a little rough around the edges are loveable, and the entire story reminds us that everyone makes mistakes, everyone has the ability to both love and hate, and we are all connected. Tan's writing is beautiful and I found myself in awe a few times, like when one of her characters said "Sharing is caring. You share with me, I share with you. We all pay it forward. The skies rain compassion. It's a win-win-win-win-win." (187). This book is aimed towards middle grade readers, since Jamie just finished seventh grade. But the lessons this book teaches you can apply to any age group. I will definitely be purchasing this for our library, and recommending it to everyone I know. :)
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