The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street (hardcover)
by Karina Yan Glaser
I put off reading The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, because I generally read books with real world problems, relevant to current events, or about misrepresented youth. This book seemed too happy. Well, I wasn’t wrong. It is about a family of 7 (mom and dad, twin daughters, a son, and then 2 more younger daughters). They are being evicted from their brownstone in Harlem, New York, but they don’t know why. The kids are deeply troubled by this, because they love their home and don’t want to leave all they’re familiar with, including the friendly neighbors. They decide to win over their grouchy landlord, who lives upstairs, but each attempt ends in failure.
What I liked about this book was that it was a pleasant surprise for me. I didn’t think I’d enjoy it as much as I did. While it wasn’t my favorite of the year, I really liked that the kids were raised in a family where they were taught tolerance, respect, and individuality. The kids were cared about, were given responsibilities (like cleaning and cooking), and their parents clearly cared about their mental well-being. It seems like most books these days DO focus on tougher problems. While my genre happens to be underrepresented youth, it was refreshing to read something so wholesome, but still engaging. I think my own daughters will enjoy this when they’re a bit older. I also really enjoyed reading about all of their cooking, baking, and crafting, and I was forced to create a Pinterest board of recipes and crafting activities. Forced by myself, because I want to remember these things.
What I didn’t like about this book was that it was a little predictable. While I hadn’t worked out ALL of the details, I basically figured out in the first few chapters what the deal was with the landlord, and what would happen in the end. Maybe it’s because I’m such an experienced, worldly reader. I don’t think this really takes away from the story, though, because it was still thoroughly enjoyable.
Book 80 of 40 (I doubled my school year goal!)
(Book 46 of 2018)