A kid who considers himself an epic fail discovers the transformative power of love when he deals with adoption in this novel from Cynthia Kadohata, winner of the Newbery Medal (Kira-Kira) and the National Book Award (The Thing About Luck).
Eleven-year-old Jaden is adopted, and he knows he’s an “epic fail.” That’s why his family is traveling to Kazakhstan to adopt a new baby—to replace him, he’s sure. And he gets it. He is incapable of stopping his stealing, hoarding, lighting fires, aggressive running, and obsession with electricity. He knows his parents love him, but he feels...nothing.
When they get to Kazakhstan, it turns out the infant they’ve traveled for has already been adopted, and literally within minutes are faced with having to choose from six other babies. While his parents agonize, Jaden is more interested in the toddlers. One, a little guy named Dimash, spies Jaden and barrels over to him every time he sees him. Jaden finds himself increasingly intrigued by and worried about Dimash. Already three years old and barely able to speak, Dimash will soon age out of the orphanage, and then his life will be as hopeless as Jaden feels now. For the first time in his life, Jaden actually feels something that isn’t pure blinding fury, and there’s no way to control it, or its power.
From camels rooting through garbage like raccoons, to eagles being trained like hunting dogs, to streets that are more pothole than pavement, the vivid depictions in Half a World Away create “an inspiring story that celebrates hope and second chances” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Romanian-born Jaden knows fear and anger but has trouble feeling love and trust. He was abandoned by his biological mother at age four, then shuttled to several foster homes before being adopted by an American couple. Now 12, Jaden thinks his adoptive parents must not be "satisfied" with him because they want another child, and they expect Jaden to go with them to Kazakhstan to meet and bond with his new adoptive baby brother. In this candid novel about three individuals struggling to become a family, National Book Award winner Kadohata (The Thing About Luck) offers a rare insider's view of a boy with attachment difficulties searching to find security and purpose. While visiting the orphanage in Kazakhstan, Jaden is drawn to a special-needs toddler, even as he has trouble feeling anything for the baby his parents plan to adopt. Jaden also forms an unexpected and eye-opening friendship with the family's outspoken hired driver. Without sugarcoating the complexities and mishaps that can accompany overseas adoption, Kadohata creates an inspiring story that celebrates hope and second chances. Ages 10 14.