Imani is adopted, and she's ready to search for her birth parents. But when she discovers the diary her Jewish great-grandmother wrote chronicling her escape from Holocaust-era Europe, Imani begins to see family in a new way.
Imani knows exactly what she wants as her big bat mitzvah gift: to find her birth parents. She loves her family and her Jewish community in Baltimore, but she has always wondered where she came from, especially since she's black and almost everyone she knows is white. Then her mom's grandmother--Imani's great-grandma Anna--passes away, and Imani discovers an old journal among her books. It's Anna's diary from 1941, the year she was twelve and fled Nazi-occupied Luxembourg alone, sent by her parents to seek refuge in Brooklyn, New York. Anna's diary records her journey to America and her new life with an adoptive family of her own. And as Imani reads the diary, she begins to see her family, and her place in it, in a whole new way.
Twelve-year-old Imani is preparing for her bat mitzvah and working up the courage to ask her parents for the gift she wants: their help searching for her birth parents. As one of the only black kids in her Baltimore community, Imani is used to insensitive questions about her background and Judaism, and she longs to connect with the biological family who share her DNA. When she discovers her great-grandmother Anna's diary of her journey from Luxembourg to Brooklyn to escape the Nazis, she finds a kindred spirit. Interspersed journal entries detail Anna's story: she was the first of her siblings to leave the family, though her parents planned for the others, including Anna's twin, to follow. Anna was taken in by a kind couple, paralleling Imani's adoption, but yearned for the day her first family would arrive. Readers and Imani know, though, that Anna's family was sent to the camps, lending a grave undercurrent to her hopeful narration. Both Anna and Imani are richly drawn characters, complex and sympathetic. Imani gains insight from Anna that helps her decide what she truly needs to know about her past, in this moving, deftly plotted story. Ages 10 14.