Monday, April 24, 2017

Lucky Broken Girl by Ruth Behar

Title: Lucky Broken Girl
Author: Ruth Behar
Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books
Publication date: April 11, 2017
Pages: 256
Source/format: Finished copy from publisher

Rating: ☆☆☆ 

Synopsis (from

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 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.

M Y  T H O U G H T S

Ruthie Mizrahi and her family moves to the United States of America for a better life after her family escaped Castro's regime in Cuba. She doesn't like being in a remedial 5th class because she people make fun of her. Ruthie's only friend in class is Ramu, a boy who moved from India and also doesn't know English that well. Ruthie doesn't give up and eventually is switched into a regular English class.

Her parents work very hard to provide a better life for Ruthie and Ruthie's brother Izzie and to live the American dream. Life is tough but they have each other. Sometimes her parents miss Cuba but Ruthie loves being in the United States. Ruthie always thought that if she works hard, she can accomplish anything until the day of the car accident.

When Ruthie ends up getting into the car accident, it was hard to read. Her family was driving on a family trip to Staten Island and everyone was so happy. Then the next thing you know, the accident occurred. Everyone is bleeding, Ruthie is stuck in the car with a missing go-go boot and her leg hurts.

Ruthie ends up struggling in a body cast with a fractured right leg for about a year trying to heal. People get frustrated and some don't treat Ruthie the same. Ruthie blames herself for wanting so much and should have been happy being Miss Hopscotch Queen of Queens. She thinks that is she wasn't so selfish, none of this would have happened.

Ruth Behar takes her own life experience as the inspiration for Lucky Broken Girl, which is announced in the acknowledgments of the book. Behar describes in a realistic and honest voice about what a child feels when they immigrate to a new country and how they try to assimilate. Most of the time, we read and hear stories about adults immigrating. But what about children who are naive and have the sense of innocence? Ruthie wants to enjoy her life as a kid and wants to learn to become a better person. It's hard for her to make friends when kids ridicule her for not knowing as many things. Reading an immigration experience through a child's POV provides a new perspective.

Even though Ruthie is bedridden, she has a tutor visit her a few times a week to keep her updated with her education. A new neighbor, Chicho, shows her how to use paints to create art. Not only does she share her culture and religion with us but Ruthie doesn't give up. Even though Ruthie is headstrong, she succeeds in everything she puts her heart toward.

Ruthie doesn't see the world based on people's race and ethnicity. She embraces what New York has to offer! The innocence of a child is seen in this novel and you can see how she befriends people who are Mexican, Indian and even Belgian. Her letters to people at the end of most of the chapters are inspiring and show they she has hope. She addresses them to Frida Kahlo, God and Shiva. Ruthie welcomes everyone with open arms.

Lucky Broken Girl is a wonderful book about family, immigration, culture, hope and so much more. It's a wonderful middle grade novel for all ages.

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