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Where I Belong
ISBN: 9780544540668
Author: Hahn, Mary Downing
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: September 2015
Retail: $6.99    OUR PRICE: $1.99
     You Save 72%
Binding Type: Paperback
Annotation: Escaping from his life of bullying and mistreatment, sixth-grader Brendan delves into a fantasy world of books where he befriends an elderly neighbor and a girl with secrets of her own.
Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Emotions & Feelings
- Juvenile Fiction | Social Issues | Friendship
- Juvenile Fiction | Family | Alternative Family
Library of Congress Subjects:
Conduct of life; Fiction.
Green Man (Tale); Fiction.
Foster home care; Fiction.
Dewey: [Fic]
LCCN: bl2015037564
Academic/Grade Level: Grade 4-6, Age 9-11
Book type: Juvenile Fiction
Target Grade: 4-6
Grade level: 4-6
Physical Information: 0.75" H x 75.00" L x 5.25" W
Bargain Category: Upper Elementary, Social Issues, Middle School
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Reviewed by Horn Book Guide Reviews (Horn Book Guide Reviews 2015 Spring)
Foster kid Brendan finds refuge in a tree house he builds. He also builds tentative friendships with Shea, a fellow outsider at school, and with an old man whom Brendan believes has supernatural abilities. This is quintessential middle-grade realistic fiction, with an unvarnished depiction of the miseries that can be visited upon a quiet sixth grader and the succor that can be found in hard-won friendships.
Reviewed by Horn Book Magazine Reviews (Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2014 #5)
"How come some kids are lucky and others aren't?" Brendan is anything but lucky: abandoned at birth by his mother and now, on the verge of failing sixth grade, living with Mrs. Clancy, a foster mother who is dutiful but apparently unloving, Brendan is smart but alienated from schooling and picked on by playground bullies and even actual hoodlums. He finds refuge in a secret tree house he builds deep in the woods, and tentative friendships begin with a girl named Shea, a fellow outsider at school; and with an old man in the woods, whom Brendan initially believes is "The Green Man," an ancient supernatural entity charged with protecting the natural world. Most readers will quickly understand that this is only Brendan's wishful fantasy, but they will also empathize with the urgency of his desire to create for himself a safer and more benevolent world. This is quintessential middle-grade realistic fiction, with an unvarnished depiction of the miseries that can be visited upon a quiet sixth grader and the succor that can be found in the hard-won friendship of peers and the attention of understanding elders. Even Mrs. Clancy comes around in the end. roger sutto Copyright 2014 Horn Book Magazine.
Reviewed by Publishers Weekly Reviews (PW Reviews 2014 August #1)

Ostracized for his long hair and standoffish attitude, sixth-grader Brendan Doyle takes solace in his art and his belief in the legendary Green Man, an ancient spirit who protects the forest and its inhabitants. When Brendan stumbles upon an imposing tree in the woods and builds a tree house where he can escape from bullies, as well as his nagging foster mother, he's certain that he's finally "found the place where I belong." The 12-year-old meets two kindred spirits—Ed, an elderly man he thinks is the Green Man, and an insightful girl named Shea who is his own age—and believes that both of them, like him, belong in "the real real world, not the fake real world." After Brendan is brutally beaten by thugs, his two friends help him, in very different ways, to better understand what is real and where he truly belongs. Hahn (Mr. Death's Blue-Eyed Girls) gives Brendan a narrative voice that is urgent, contemplative, and believable in this nuanced story about transformation, trust, identity, friendship, and loss. Ages 9–12. (Sept.)

[Page ]. Copyright 2014 PWxyz LLC
Reviewed by School Library Journal Reviews (SLJ Reviews 2014 June)

Gr 5–8—No one expects much from troubled sixth grader Brendan Doyle. His grades send him to summer school, and his foster mother Mrs. Clancy bears him no great love. To add to his troubles, a local group of miscreants taunts and attacks Brendan on a regular basis. His life changes when he discovers a neighborhood forest replete with magical serenity. It reminds him of J. R. R. Tolkien's books and the other fantasies he loves to read. He decides to build a treehouse there as an escape from the outside world. Under his tree, Brendan encounters the "Green Man," a disheveled man who resembles Brendan's idea of the mythical spirit who protects forests. Together with Shea, a girl Brendan meets at summer school, the three outcasts enact idyllic forest living even as reality threatens to destroy this fragile peace. Readers expecting one of Hahn's signature ghost stories may find this story something of a departure. Much more a traditional "issue" novel, Brendan's mystical tale blends in issues associated with urban youth, homelessness, and crime. Hahn's prose continues to target reluctant readers. Short, declarative sentences make for an approachable middle school title. The first-person narration is appealing, and the story goes down a predictable path kids can easily follow. For readers who, like Brendan, might prefer art and nature to other school subjects, Hahn's novel will likely be a winner. Give this to fans of Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia (Crowell, 1978) for a forest hide-out story with a tween twist.—Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library Association, CT

[Page 102]. (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.