book review: Borderline

Posted on 18 July 2010 Sunday

book review: Borderline
author: Allan Stratton
publisher: Harper Collins; 2010
main character: Mohammed Sami Sabiri (Sammy)

Andy and Marty have been friends with Sammy every since they were little boys. Sammy’s dad isn’t real fond of Andy and Marty, of the nicknames they give his son or the sense of humor they have. He tries to teach his son that his friends should honor his name and not call him “Prophet”. Hence, the nickname Sammy/Sami.  For Sammy’s dad, things are either right or wrong and making the correct choices is quite easy. If a child is having problems making a decision, parents are there to dictate what’s right. Parents can also send their children to private school where there are fewer distractions, and that’s just what happens to Sami. He leaves his friends behind for a private  school where he finds Eddy, a racist bully. Sami doesn’t spend a lot of time whining and complaining in the book, but his overall dissatisfaction with his life is pretty evident. Almost out of the blue, Mr. Sabriri decides to take Sami to Canada with him for a weekend where they can actually spend some time together. Just as abruptly, Mr. Sabriri announces he can’t take Sami with him. The events of this weekend shape the rest of the book. Sami’s father is accused of something and Sami’s feelings toward his dad suddenly change. Sami feels a need to protect his family and prove his dad’s innocence.

There were several situations in the story that seemed to lack motivation, like Sammy desperately needing to go to Canada to find someone, but then almost backing out when he gets there. But, isn’t that how things happen in real life? Our confidence isn’t always there as events unfold. Neither Sami nor the reader had much reason to like Sami’s dad and when things in the book finally work out, I didn’t feel much compassion for him. I don’t know if Sami would.

Borderline is a middle grade story. When I want compelling situations, characters that develop through the story … I have to remember that this is a middle grade book that is presenting rather intense issues to young children: terrorism, bullies, racism and honesty. Stratton manages to give these themes to readers in a way that is real, but not terrifying.

Posted in: Book Reviews