5th Grade and Up
Based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s, a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed.
Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen, a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast from the chest down and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger. She comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.
This book is amazingly written, featuring both English and Spanish; Spanglish if you will.
I can’t imagine not being able to use my legs for a whole year. Remember, this book takes place in the 1960’s not the present. She can’t watch TV all day or play on her phone. She reads many books and painted to keep herself entertained. She had to use a bedpan, there’s one specific scene with the bedpan that will make you cringe, just to warn you.
While Ruthie is stuck in her cast, she starts to take an interest in art and learns to paint while laying on her back. If you’re impressed by that, check out the following videos:
Disabled artist uses mouth to paint: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXtWUfuRi1w
Armless Artist’s Incredible Paintings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5FHllrGEGoo
The thing I didn’t like about this book is how Ruthie’s mother bends over backwards to make her husband happy and how angry Ruthie’s father gets when he doesn’t get his way. It reminded me of a lesson I had in English class in high school. My English teacher showed us a pamphlet or a brochure from the 1940’s or some year about what to do before your husband gets home. It was nonsense like ‘make sure the children’s faces are clean’,‘dinner must be made and ready before your husband gets home’, and (my personal favorite) ‘take a 10-minute nap so you look fresh when he gets home.’ The mother does two of these three things. It’s sad how many things women did to try to make men happy. It’s ridiculous. Now a days, women are more equal. Well, more equal than before.
Many cultures are featured in this story; to name a few; Cuban, India, Mexico, Belgium. So many cultures make up America. This book shows that we should preserve our cultures but also learn about and accepted other cultures as well.
This book is very human. Everything in this book feels real. And it should be since the author herself spent a year of her childhood in a body cast. That’s why Ruthie’s experience feels so real. Check out the Author’s Note for the full story.
This weeks’ Weird but True Fact about Human Bones
A human bone is 5 times stronger than a piece of steel of the same weight.