I Wanna Be Your Shoebox
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
I loved this book. Yumi Ruiz Hirsch is Cuban, Jewish and Japanese. She's also surfer/skater boarder, classical clarinetist, who loves good rock ( Ramones), and she plays a decent bass guitar. Garcia refused to limit who Yumi was and who she could become. The summer is over, Yumi is returning from Surfer's camp, she'll be entering the 8th grade. Yumi's lives with her mother. Her parents have been divorced since she was one. Yumi is very close to Saul her Jewish grandfather. Saul is ninety-two and dying of cancer. Yumi asks Saul to tell his story and he does. The story alternates between Yumi's everyday life and visiting Saul.
Much is going on in Yumi's life. Her mom is dating for the first time in years and due to a lack of funds, the school orchestra is being discontinued. To save the orchestra, the members decide to put on a rock concert with classical instruments. Yumi is one of the students who takes charge. It was her idea.
How about a fund raising concert? I suggest. Maybe an all girl punk band. Dad says you can play punk with three chords and lots of attitude, so how hard could it be? I figure we could cover a couple of great Ramones songs, maybe write one of our own. In less than five minutes everyone is already fighting over a name for our nonexistent band. I'm in favor of Don't Call Me Miss. the other contenders are Testosterone Free Zone (TFZ), The Anastasia's, Kisses for a Dollar, the Neo-Cramps, and Nasty Girl. Quincy complains that boys shouldn't be excluded from the band and says he'll play in drag if he has to. Believe me, at six foot two and one hundred seventy pounds, that would not be a pretty sight.
I loved this book from the beginning. Garcia's created a wonderful character in Yumi. The ending reminded me of another book I loved Kephart's, House of Dance. I knew Saul was going to die, but it's still sad. The authors don't want the readers to linger on death but to look forward and they look to dance as a way to embrace life. This book came out in 2008, I only just heard about it last recently. I Wanna be Your Shoebox is a book diamond. I loved this book so much I will be reading Garcia's adult novelDreaming in Cuban, next. I don't usually read two books by an author so close together but I Wanna be Your Shoebox was so good I am making an exception. Ages 9 up. I highly recommend it. An excellent book club selection. I read the hardcover edition but I like the look of the QP better so that's the one I used. The paperback will be released on Sept 22. though this book is hardcover worthy. Or simply check your local library. Read an excerpt. As an added bonus here's Dreaming in Cuban Google Preview.
If you're thinking, "Oh my an added bonus, I've never seen that before. This book must be extra special," You would be correct. So go get your hands on a copy of I Wanna Be Your Shoebox.
Doret knows YA. She's bookseller, reader and reviewer. When she's not helping me with lists and "What Do I Read Next?" and any number of other features here at Color Online, Doret blogs at Happy Nappy Bookseller. Check her out.