Ethan, Sus­pend­ed

  • Review
By – December 16, 2011

Sub­ur­ban­ite Ethan Oppen­heimer is sus­pend­ed from his mid­dle school and sent from his Penn­syl­va­nia home to live with his grand­par­ents, whom he bare­ly knows, in down­town Wash­ing­ton D.C. He is the only white stu­dent in his inner-city school. His race and upper mid­dle class back­ground add to his tran­si­tion as the new kid,” and Ethan has a lot of trou­ble mak­ing friends. His home life is total­ly dif­fer­ent from before, with his grand­par­ents liv­ing what he regards as a very old-fash­ioned lifestyle (no Inter­net and email) and one that is com­par­a­tive­ly fru­gal. At the same time he has to deal with many emo­tion­al issues. He has guilt for the events that led to his sus­pen­sion and hurt anoth­er boy, and he also has a lot of anx­i­ety about his par­ents’ recent sep­a­ra­tion and his sister’s leav­ing for col­lege in California. 

This is tru­ly an unusu­al com­ing-of-age nov­el, with Ethan’s research into the 1968 riots in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. open­ing a new world for him, one bring­ing him clos­er to his grand­par­ents’ and his mother’s experiences. 

A first nov­el by an edu­ca­tor in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., this book is extreme­ly well-writ­ten and always holds the reader’s atten­tion. Although Ethan and his fam­i­ly are Jew­ish, there is lit­tle Jew­ish con­tent. Rec­om­mend­ed for junior high read­ers as a true-to-life sto­ry they can relate to. Ages 11 – 14.

Shelly Feit has an M.L.S. and a Sixth-year Spe­cial­ist’s Cer­tifi­cate in infor­ma­tion sci­ence. She is the library direc­tor and media spe­cial­ist at the Mori­ah School in Engle­wood, NJ.

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