I got to listen to the audio version of this book, and more than once I reacted audibly to events in the narrative. Though the accent of the character of Agent Fiona did not come across as well as I would have liked, the overall delivery was entertaining and did a good job bringing Amari and the Night Brothers to life. Magic and the supernatural are heavily involved in this story, appeasing fans of Harry Potter and Rick Riordan, and the truth woven into Amari’s backstory grounds readers in the realities of life for youth growing up with little more than the strength of their conviction. The first in its series, this book kept me on the edge of my seat, and I’m eagerly anticipating the next installment. Please see my full review below.
Stereotypes and widespread beliefs can be significantly limiting to the success of any one person, requiring them to choose to bend to societal expectations or rise spectacularly above them. Amari Peters is a girl people think they know everything about. Growing up with dark skin in a low-income housing community with a single mother comes with its own set of challenges, nevermind the ridicule Amari faces every day from her peers. The sudden and unexplained disappearance of her older brother has led to a series of behavioral issues for Amari, so when an unexpected opportunity to step beyond the boundaries of her known world arrives, she jumps at the chance. Like many opportunities for growth, Amari finds her experience is not as perfect as she would like, but it tests her resolve in ways that help her develop into a more confident and driven young woman.
Stunning in its delivery, this book expertly blends magic and mythology with the challenges of growing up in a marginalized community. Amari is not alone in her struggles, but she must work harder than anyone else to prove she belongs. Several verbal altercations arise within the narrative, placing readers directly inside Amari’s thoughts as she manages to process the hurtful words thrown her way. She displays great fortitude of spirit when confronting those who belittle her because of her upbringing, choosing the higher road often as she aims for a brighter future.
Amari’s world is one her mother knows nothing about, which means Amari must venture into the unknown without a parent to guide her. Happily, Amari encounters mentors and friends who recognize both her potential and her present identity, supporting her when necessary along the way. Even so, Amari is unlike anyone else, her abilities and background isolating her in many ways. It is up to Amari to find her voice amidst the challenges, standing up for herself and searching for the truth of what happened to her brother.
This inspiring story incorporates elements of magic and the supernatural with the gritty realities of growing up. Very little is sugar coated in this narrative, which makes the story feel compellingly real. Friends and foes add dynamic layers to Amari’s life, enhancing her inner strength even when circumstances are less than ideal. Fans of Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Divergent will connect with Amari’s journey and look forward to reading future installments. This is a gripping and memorable addition to library collections for middle grade readers.
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