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Dream On Amber by Emma Shevah

What's it like growing up half-Japanese, half-Italian with a seemingly complicated name (Ambra Alessandra Leola Kimko Miyamoto), and also dealing with the reality that your dad's not around? Ambra knows. Okay, let's call her Amber (since she prefers that anyway). Well, Amber definitely has a lot to deal with. With a touch of passive aggressiveness in her, she tackles life one bite-sized piece at a time, always thinking and contemplating. She also loves drawing and likes to play the good big sister, watching out for little Bella (although that seemingly never goes in her favour and gets her into trouble sometimes).

She misses her dad (who left when she was little) and the consensus seems to be that he's not coming back anytime soon. Her mom doesn't like to talk about him and when Amber brings it up, her mom makes a face and says "It's complicated!" (End of conversation.) This just makes the situation more mysterious for Amber and even though she doesn't get it, she still likes to try to understand because not knowing makes her imagine all sorts of other things.

Her dad’s leaving makes her feel like there's a massive void. She describes it as twisting in a dark spiral that's super heavy, sucking some of the good things and swallowing them up. She's not sure why it bothers her so much when she's lived nearly half her life without him. But she knows that there are times when that black hole feels like it's crushing her from the inside. But that's only sometimes. Other times, she's a normal girl dealing with most of the issues kids her age deal with (apart from the half-Japanese, half-Italian part). 

This year, she's going to a new middle grade school. So of course she's a bit bummed that her mom isn't buying her a new iPhone so she can fit in with the other kids. Sigh! Right now Amber doesn't even have Internet on her phone, and she's knows that everyone else will be chatting with each other on WhatsApp all day long and posting pics of their lunches on Instagram. But she won't be cool enough to do that. There goes her social life. Yup, that's some of the many things a sixth grader has to deal with. (Darn that popularity contest!)

It's a wonderful book that takes us through the thought processes of a sixth grader. The troubles, the coping mechanisms and the creative solutions for problem solving (some of which are wonderfully absurd). Dream On Amber is simply a book grounded in reality. The voice of Amber is on cue and the illustrations by Helen Crawford-White are just an adorable accompaniment to the marvellous storytelling by Emma Shevah. 

5/5 Sukasa Stars 


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Dream On Amber is published by Source Books and distributed in Canada by raincoastbooks.com 

Review by
@ShilpaRaikar for @SukasaReads (a division of @SukasaStyle)
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