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Linked (edition 2021)
by Gordon Korman (Author)
Linked by Gordon Korman
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When a swastika appears in a small-town middle school, the students counter antisemitism by creating a paper chain in memory of the six million Jews killed in the Holocaust. A social media instigator stirs up trouble, one boy learns about his Jewish ancestry, and archaeologists digging nearby make a startling discovery. Told from multiple perspectives, this book is entertaining and insightful. (Sydney Taylor Middle Grade Honor) ( )
Linked is a 2023 Lone Star novel where chapters are told from different points of view: Link, the class prankster; Michael, the head of the art club; Dana, a new student and the only Jewish person in the school; and, Caroline, the person who believes in student government and leadership.
Michael always forgets stuff, but this time when he returns to school to get his phone, the entire town reels when Michael turns from his locker in the empty school and sees a swastika painted on the wall. He freezes. Meanwhile, Lincoln (Link) pulls one of his infamous pranks with his friends by putting manure in the office of the dinosaur scientists. Unfortunately, his big joke is overshadowed by the swastika. His father wants the town to be a destination--people come from all around to see the dinosaur dig--the next Disney World! Therefore, Link has little love for the dinosaur dig and has little patience with his dad's constant talk of the town's future and Link's own future.
Symbols of hate cut through society, making people face the past, the present and the future. There's a rumor that a thousand crosses burned one night by the KKK. Has the town moved beyond their racist past? The novel explores these ideas. The first response is to have tolerance classes for the students. They seem to be indifferent to the classes although some students start to understand how hate affects the hated. One of the dinosaur scientists happens to be Jewish and sends his daughter to this school. She stands out as the only Jew where a swastika was painted. It's rather uncomfortable for her. People give Dana side-long looks, wondering how's she's doing. After the tolerance classes, everyone believes they've done all they can do. That's when another swastika is found. Then another. Then another. What should the second response be? What does this say about their town? Do people really hate this much?
The novel explores different people's reactions to hate symbols. Link, the prankster, can't joke about this symbol. He talks about what he's learned about the Jews and hate, feeling sorry for Jews when his mother tells him something she hasn't known long. Her mother was an orphan. She had been protected by French nuns, never told about her family to keep her safe. They all died in the Holocaust. When Link learns this information--that's he's technically Jewish, he's determined to honor his Jewish heritage. He enlists Dana to help him prepare for a bar mitzvah. He speaks to the rabbi in a nearby town and embraces this journey with seriousness. Still, what about everyone else? They town doesn't want to be known for hate. After a brainstorming session, Caroline and Michael have a plan. To understand how big six million is, they need to see this number. That's how many Jews were killed in the concentration camps. How can they make the number real? They decide to make a paper chain. Mathematically, this endeavour is impossible, but determination must mean something!
I liked the novel a lot. Once you discover who the culprit is and the person's attitude, you see that some people can never understand WHY hate symbols are bad. You also see people who change; they realize hate must be faced, apologies made, and reach out to others to make society a better place. I enjoyed all of the characters, as they represent so many different types of people and reactions. The town comes together acknowledging their past and choosing forgiveness and love as their legacy even as they may have to let go of being the next tourist destination. You can't change everyone, but you can help a lot of people to see the harm that hate causes.
Narrated by a cast of six. The book opens with Michael's discovery of a red swastika painted on the school's atrium wall. The news shakes the middle school and the small Colorado town that has a racist history many prefer to forget. As the school embarks on a tolerance curriculum, more swastikas appear throughout the school building and community. Through the alternating perspectives of several students and a blustering YouTube personality, we see the unfolding of events, reactions, and shifting perspectives. The multiple narrators are adept at portraying young teens caught up in the tumult of negative headlines. The plot twist leads to a community-wide feel-good ending that's almost too perfect to believe. The main messages of the history of the Holocaust and anti-hate activism will come through for teen readers.
Review to come after the Cybils Awards!
I appreciate that Korman wanted to make a point with this book but the topic doesn't suit his writing style.
An unforgettable novel from the New York Times bestselling Gordon Korman. Link, Michael, and Dana live in a quiet town. But it's woken up very quickly when someone sneaks into school and vandalizes it with a swastika. Nobody can believe it. How could such a symbol of hate end up in the middle of their school? Who would do such a thing? Because Michael was the first person to see it, he's the first suspect. Because Link is one of the most popular guys in school, everyone's looking to him to figure it out. And because Dana's the only Jewish girl in the whole town, everyone's treating her more like an outsider than ever. The mystery deepens as more swastikas begin to appear. Some students decide to fight back and start a project to bring people together instead of dividing them further. The closer Link, Michael, and Dana get to the truth, the more there is to face-not just the crimes of the present, but the crimes of the past. With Linked, Gordon Korman, the author of the acclaimed novel Restart, poses a mystery for all readers where the who did it? isn't nearly as important as the why?
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century
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