I absolutely loved Arango's debut Iveliz Explains It All, so Something Like Home was HIGHLY anticipated.
If you're looking for great middle grade novel for your 4th to 6th graders as a parent or educator, then keep reading to see what I loved about Something Like Home and why I highly recommend it!
Like Iveliz, Laura is facing real issues that reflect the experiences of young people. Arango offers vital representation you don't often see in middle grade fiction - foster care with kinship due to parental drug addiction. This novels-in-verse opened my eyes to what it might mean for young folks who live with an a family member who is not their parent and what the "reason" might be. How it can deeply impact the child as they internalize guilt for adult choices and behaviors.
As expected from Arango, Something Like Home helps adult readers come to many realizations about the experiences of young people. I learned more about what it's like having sickle cell disease and the difficulty of maintaining friendships when you're constantly in and out of the hospital. Bird facts, so many cool things shared through Laura's affinity and interest. The process for training a dog to be a therapy dog. Queer rep (Laura's mom was disowned by her family because she was dating a girl.) Normalizing therapy - focus on group/family therapy.
My biggest takeaway was that even as adults make tough (but ultimately the best) decisions for young people, we should validate their feelings and give them as much agency of their lives as we can. The adults in Laura's life could have easily and should have sat her down and explained everything instead of just ferrying her around.
Overall, I really enjoyed the content - but the writing didn't hit the same way Iveliz Explains It All did. Felt more simplistic/less poetic? Maybe because Laura is younger but only by a year. I also wanted more on her parents and Benson. But that could be my adult reader brain. Maybe I'm just being nitpicky (ignore me lol). This is an EXCELLENT book for the middle school classroom (5th to 6th) and there are definitely children who NEED this book to know their feelings are okay and they're not alone in their experience. That it's okay if they're family dynamics are different from others.