Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 9 to 12
- Grade: 7 to 10
- Reading age: 9 to 12
Fifteen-year-old Mackenzie Hill knows something is up when she arrives home to find her father making a home-cooked dinner, instead of his standard delivery pizza. But nothing prepares her for the bombshell announcement: Mackenzie and her dad, alone since the death of her mother a year ago, are moving to Jerusalem, where her father has taken a position as a visiting professor at a university.
The adjustment from life in Canada to life in Israel is dramatic - though it’s eased somewhat when Mackenzie is befriended by an American girl in her new school. The biggest shock of all comes when Mackenzie faces the wrath of her new friends, new community, and even her own father after she begins dating a Muslim boy.
About the author
Deborah Kerbel is the author of several picture books, including Before You Were Born, When Molly Drew Dogs, and the award-winning Sun Dog, as well as novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Born in London, England, she moved to Canada at the age of two and went on to attend the University of Western Ontario. Her novels have been shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Canadian Library Association YA Book of the Year, and the Manitoba Young Reader’s Choice Award. Deborah lives in Thornhill, Ontario, with her husband, two book-loving children, and a schnoodle named Alfredo.
"... a poignant coming of age story with a twist ... Kerbel is a great writer. With a writing style that is familiar but distinctive at once. She gives a taste of what's there but keeps you wanting more and more. Overall, this novel was a very well done and extremely original. I hope to rad more of Kerbel soon enough."
Kelsey, Reading Keeps You Sane
A good contemporary tale, with an exceptionally fine setting for 12-15 year-old readers.
Winnipeg Free Press
Like Mackenzie herself, readers are sure to fall under the spell of Jerusalem and its many charms as the author adroitly conveys a sense of the land, its people and its rich history. While she depicts the tension and the ever-present threat of violence simmering near the surface of ordinary life, she also captures the awesomeness of its ancient ties
Canadian Children's Book News
This book deals with challenging and topical material in a manner appropriate for the young adult audience. The protagonist is honest and na which makes her a good avenue to explore Jewish and Muslim religious traditions, relationships with family and friends, and the sweetness of first love. Patricia Jermey
The novel was a great read; I enjoyed learning a little more about this region, people and culture through the book. It was an insightful story.
A Cozy Reader's Corner
Mackenzie, Lost and FoundThree months. Mackenzie just has to suffer through three months in a foreign country where she doesn’t know the language, the customs or anyone other than her father. When Mackenzie’s father told her that they would be moving to Israel for a year so he could oversee an archeological dig near Jerusalem, she had flatly refused to go. However, he had eventually agreed that if she was truly miserable after three months, he’d arrange to send her home.
Life in Jerusalem does indeed prove very different for Mackenzie, and she discovers that she has much to learn. Things become easier when she finds a friend in Marla, a girl who understands the pain that Mackenzie is still grappling with as she mourns her mom’s recent passing. Then there is Nasir, the Palestinian boy that she finds herself drawn to. When she and Nasir begin to see each other in secret, Marla is openly critical. Hurt by her friend’s refusal to accept her relationship with Nasir, Mackenzie ignores Marla’s warnings. When things start to spiral out of control, Mackenzie realizes that her actions may have dire consequences for both her and Nasir.
Like Mackenzie herself, readers are sure to fall under the spell of Jerusalem and its many charms as the author adroitly conveys a sense of the land, its people and its rich history. While she depicts the tension and the ever-present threat of violence simmering near the surface of ordinary life, she also captures the awesomeness of its ancient ties. Mackenzie is taken aback to discover that even young people her age are very politically and socially aware, and struggles with the pressure from her peers to “take a side.” She also discovers that people’s feelings and convictions not only run deep, but are also very complex and multi-layered. Her story gives readers much to think about even while leaving them uneasy about Nasir’s fate.
Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Spring 2009. Vol.32 No.2.