Katie and Ana share everything with each other—friendship bracelets, hidden messages, and ice skating adventures. But lately, Katie and Ana have been keeping secrets from each other. Katie is adopted, and she’s been wondering about her birth parents and her birthplace. She worries that saying this out loud—even to her best friend Ana—could mess up the perfect family she has now. Ana’s family has been falling apart ever since her dad left, and it’s up to her to hold it together. But Ana fears no matter how hard she tries, her family may never be whole again. At a time when they need each other the most, the links between the girls are beginning to break. Before they lose each other, they must work through their secrets to reveal the shining truth underneath: friendship, just like family, is worth fighting for. Sometimes, it's the strongest link of all.
What I loved about this realistic middle grade, told in alternating points of view:
- Ana’s love for her younger brother Mikey, especially when she replaces the slimy radishes on his Thanksgiving dinner plate with a candy bar pie, complete with a golden, flaky crust and gentle waves of whipped cream.
- Ana’s persistence. She’s determined to convince her absent dad, a professional hockey player, to rejoin their family. Because, in Ana’s words, “How were you supposed to be a family with an empty spot on the roster?"
- Katie’s longing to know more about her birth parents, a yearning that grows during the holidays. In Katie’s words, “The whole point of Christmas was a birth story that millions of people had already known for thousands of years. The thing that matters is how and where you were born.”
- The scene where Katie learns that her favorite figure skater is from a Russian village near her birthplace. “They had something in common—something big. Maybe she could do beautiful, amazing, impossible things too, even if she never learned to quadruple toe loop.”
- The message that friendship is often our strongest link. I loved the girls’ matching friendship bracelets and the candles they lit in their windows as a signal to meet. This lyrical, heartwarming middle grade, set around the holidays, is a perfect story for this time of year.
★ “A well-told story celebrating the power of friendship to comfort and heal when families fall short.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Endearing, authentic...A captivating story with tremendous heart.” School Library Journal
“Vickers offers insightful portrayals of the two main characters as well as the complex backstories that make up their family lives.” Booklist
“The novel is honest about how difficult changes, internal and external, can be, but is ultimately reassuring: traditions, even beloved ones, are allowed to evolve.” The Horn Book
Author Elaine Vickers has generously donated a hardcover copy of Paper Chains (plus bookmarks!) to a MG Minded reader! For a chance to win, simply leave your name and email address in the comments below. A winner will be drawn at random.