Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I've been a fan of Sarah Weeks after reading Pie however long ago, and pretty much anything she does is an automatic for me at this point. Save Me a Seat is a collaborative effort with first-time author Gita Varadarajan, and, while flawed, ends up being a charming book about acceptance and friendship.
The story follows two kids. One, Joe, has some special educational needs and is struggling in school but at least knows how to navigate the social aspects a bit. Ravi, our other main character, just moved into town. An Indian-American boy, he speaks with an accent and his family is proud of their heritage, but it's causing him some distress at school both in terms of outright bullying and smaller issues. Over the course of a week, we follow these two kids who get to know each other in a specialized class for struggling students.
On one hand, the book is a really charming story about friendship and acceptance. We get just enough in the way of the cultural and social navigation to be a good entry point for the intended age group without overwhelming the story, which is good. On the downside, some of the issues are a little heavy-handed, and I probably noticed it more because of my awareness of the current literary climate in regards to cultural issues than a regular 10 year old reading this would. Still, it's not enough by any standard to not recommend this across the board.
Sarah Weeks continues to be great, and I also hope we get more from Gita Varadarajan as well. This was a wonderful read for everyone.
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