Little Willow (slayground) wrote,
Little Willow

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Leap of Faith by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

After what her parents call "the accident," sixth-grader and previously good student Abby was expelled from her previous school. Left with three choices (the county alternative school, private school, or being homeschooled), she ends up at St. Catherine's, a private Catholic school. Her family isn't very religious, but beggars can't be choosers. She has to go somewhere, so there she goes.

Abby refuses to talk to anyone about the incident. This is partially because she's a private person, and partially because she thinks she doesn't have anyone to talk to about it. She likes being angry, claiming that the emotion gives her energy and power. Meanwhile, her parents would rather not discuss anything upsetting, so whenever Abby's expulsion comes up in what little conversation they have, they dance around the subject.

Like the incidents in Just Listen by Sarah Dessen or Sweethearts by Sara Zarr, "the accident" (and the truth behind it) is revealed in bits and pieces throughout the book. Similar to the revelation in Laurie Halse Anderson's novel Speak, this isn't just about what happened to Abby or how she reacted, but when she choses to talk about it and the person she chooses to be her confidant.

Leap of Faith by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley is about acceptance, survival, and forgiveness. It is also about trust and about belief - in yourself, in the truth, in other people. It is possible to have a strong sense of faith without necessarily being religious. Thanks to her new friend Chris, his mother, and newfound faith in herself, Abby finds her way and proves that she is a survivor.

This book was chosen as a finalist in the Middle Grade category of the 2007 Cybils Awards. I also placed it on my Best Books of 2007 list. I encourage kids and adults alike to read this book, then talk about what caused Abby's expulsion and what to do if something similar happens to them.

Further Reading

If you have any concerns about the possible content, what with my comparing it to Speak, Just Listen, and Sweethearts, please note that this book is for a younger audience than the aforementioned titles. In other words, you have nothing to worry about. I think it's perfect for middle schoolers, the readers for which it is intended. I recommend it to older kids and adults too. Read it for yourself.

I read the scene with Abby setting up the Christmas Village as her mother passes through at least three times. I just kept re-reading that page and a half and thinking, "That's it, that's exactly it - that's how these people live every day."

Abby and Chris came right off of the page and into the theatre of my mind.

Speaking of which, the play they performed in the book was based on another of Bradley's books, Ruthie's Gift. After finishing Leap of Faith, I tracked down Ruthie's Gift and its companion One-of-a-Kind Mallie, two stories about life in the 1940s.
Tags: books, cybils, reviews

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