Sila Tekin made a mistake. She didn't mean to. She meant to make everything better. But instead she changed everything.
Middle schooler Sila Tekin's mother has been gone for 8 months - not the eight days they thought she would need to go back to Turkey and get her immigration paperwork straightened out. Sila's mom had to leave Oregon because of Sila. Sila discovered that her mother was being paid less money than a man doing the same job at the hotel where they both worked. Sila tried to help. She wanted to make things right. What happened was things went really, really wrong.
Now Sila and her father are living a life of toast and scrambled eggs, Skyping with her mom every night they can and mostly waiting..and waiting...and waiting.
Then Sila's father gets a call to come and take a look at a truck whose engine has quit. When Sila and her dad drive out to see the truck, they make friends with the owner, a man named Gio and it turns out that Gio's wife had been Sila's second grade teacher, her favorite teacher.
Friends and friendship can show up in the most unexpected places. For Sila and Gio and Sila's dad that friendship happens about a truck. At school Sila finds friendship in another unexpected place when she is put into a project to be a partner with Mateo, a boy who has autism.
Now in the middle of these growing friendships and the aching separation of being away from her mother, a large unexpected animal is about to arrive. This animal loves the smell of the great outdoors. This animal can find her own water. This animal senses goodness in people - especially in two young people named Sila and Mateo. This animal knows a little something about waiting, too.
This is a beautiful, tender, heart grabbing story about how deeply we love our family and how special other people can become to us. It's also a story about immigrants and autism and how to see the specialness in each other no matter where we come from or where we sit on the neuro spectrum.
If you have a Champion or a Teamplayer reader, they won't want to miss this one. It will become a favorite to be read and re-read. Jokesters will get a kick out of the enormous pile of poop. Investigators will be interested in the cause and effect that runs on many levels here.
Get your tissue box ready around page 190. Just have it handy. (Not just one tissue...get the box.) This is grand and glorious and goes right to the heart of things.
256 pages 978-0735229945 Ages 9-13
Keywords: immigrants, immigration, elephants, laws, humor, diversity, diverse books, family, mothers, separation, love, connection, acceptance, accepting others, middle school, autism, person with autism, friends, friendship, standing up for yourself, circus, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, If You Liked the One and Only Ivan
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
It's been almost a year since Sila's mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States.
The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places.
A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humor that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.---from the publisher