Wandering Librarians's Reviews > Serafina's Promise

Serafina's Promise by Ann E. Burg
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really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, family, friendship, realistic-fiction, serious-issues, ya, middle-grade

** spoiler alert ** Serafina lives in Haiti with her mother and father, not far outside Port-au-Prince. More than anything, Serafina wants to go to school so that one day she can become a doctor. But her family has no money for school, and she must stay home and help her mother, so is expecting a baby. But Serafina won't give up on her dream, and makes a promise to herself that one day she'll make it to school.

This was a lovely, uplifting story that was full of hope. It was about the power of love and family, and that even when terrible things happen, you can rise above them. The book is written in verse, which, as I've said before, I don't usually love, but I will say that it worked well for this story and was not distracting.

At first, I wasn't sure where the book took place. It didn't say specifically, and Serafina's father worked "in the city." It wasn't until Port-au-Prince was specifically mentioned that I realized where we were, and then of course started worrying because there was probably an earthquake coming.

Serafina loves her family, even though she feels frustrated with them often, mostly with her mother. Her mother is constantly anxious and worrying, especially with a new baby on the way. Serafina was a big sister once before, but the baby died. That was when Serafina decided that one day she would be a doctor. Her mother is always telling her to do chores, and often seems to have no time to hear Serafina's thoughts or stories and experiences.

During the rainy season, Serafina's home is swept away, and she and her family must build a new home. It's hard, because Serafina no longer has her friends close by, but the new home actually ends up being better than the last, and there is even room for a garden, and with the increase in money, Serafina starts school.

The earthquake, of course, does happen, and Serafina must search for her family. Interestingly, while the book ends with hope, we don't actually know for sure if Serafina's mother, grandmother and baby brother are OK. I would like to believe they are, and Serafina finds them safe and keeps going to school and becomes a doctor. Because that's the way this book makes you feel.

This is a great middle school read, and excellent for looking at the recent events there, or what life is like in other countries, but your readers aren't quite up for In Darkness yet.

Serafina's Promise came out today.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
September 24, 2013 – Shelved
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: fiction
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: family
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: friendship
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: realistic-fiction
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: serious-issues
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: ya
September 24, 2013 – Shelved as: middle-grade
September 24, 2013 – Finished Reading

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