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Fiona and Yolanda's friendship is tested by the place and time they live in—the Bronx in the early 1960s. Fiona's grandparents came from Ireland; Yolanda is black. Their friendship breaks all the rules. Compelled by financial hardship and concern about her daughter, Fiona's mother has reunited with her husband, who struggles with alcoholism and the violence it triggers in him. Their new start offers Fiona the hope of normalcy and of finally being accepted by her peers. But her friendship with Yolanda is not ...
Fiona and Yolanda's friendship is tested by the place and time they live in—the Bronx in the early 1960s. Fiona's grandparents came from Ireland; Yolanda is black. Their friendship breaks all the rules. Compelled by financial hardship and concern about her daughter, Fiona's mother has reunited with her husband, who struggles with alcoholism and the violence it triggers in him. Their new start offers Fiona the hope of normalcy and of finally being accepted by her peers. But her friendship with Yolanda is not something her new friends will tolerate, and so Fiona deceives both Yolanda and herself. When she realizes that her father is drinking again and her mother is in danger, Fiona sees that the price of acceptance—her mother's safety and her friendship with Yolanda—is one she refuses to pay. As she comes to understand what is truly worth having, Fiona makes a plan to protect her mother and finds the courage to defend her friendship with Yolanda.
Fiona O'Doherty, 14, describes her complicated, sometimes painful life in the Bronx in 1963. Her alcoholic, abusive father has caused her mom to move the family into a small, crowded apartment with relatives and then, when things don't work out, back with him and more abuse. Fiona's mother does not approve of her friendship with Yolanda, an African-American girl. Each teen feels like an outsider except when they are together. One is plagued by racism and the other, by the instability of her dysfunctional family. Ultimately, Yolanda, a take-action person, convinces Fiona to stop going along with things and find a way to stand up to her father. Maintaining their friendship is sometimes difficult, especially for Fiona, who is enticed by the popular white girls in school when they start to pay attention to her because of her friendship with David Silverman. Unfortunately, she joins her new friends in excluding Yolanda, rationalizing her feelings of guilt. McGuigan has created rich characters and tackles several uncomfortable social issues. At times the integration of these issues is a bit heavy-handed. Fiona's voice reverberates through a range of emotional highs and lows in this story of friendship, loyalty, trust, racism, and coping that culminates with the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Like Shana Burg's A Thousand Never Evers (Delacorte, 2008), the novel offers insight into a turbulent era.-Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ
Posted March 7, 2013
A Morning In A Different Place is a slow page turner. A story about a girl's chapter in life,
spread and elaborated through 195 pages in 27 chapters. The book consist of
relatable, small and simple chapters that have big and meaningful actions. From beginning to
the end it captivated my full interest. The book is short and I liked it. It took me a couple days to finish.
Overall, I recommend it to those teens who doesn't like to read big and more complex books like me.
The story is set in the 1960's, when President John F. Kennedy was still the President. What happened
before the assassination of the president, is reflected throughout the story, including racism and
segregation of the African Americans. In the beginning of the book, we are introduced by an Irish
girl, named Fiona, who struggles with an alcoholic, abusive father in her family. She is an 8th
grader who wants to live a normal life, but fails to do so, because of some complications in her
family and people in school. She has an African American friend, named Yolanda, whose
courage is unbeatable and has to deal with racism and segregation. They both struggle to keep
up with their own problems and throughout the book, their friendship are tested.
Posted May 12, 2012
Mary Ann McGuigan’s Morning in a Different Place takes place in the Bronx in the two months leading up to the assassination of John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Fiona, an Irish eighth-grader, establishes an unlikely friendship with Yolanda, a black girl whose courage and tenacity she admires and attempts to emulate when Fiona’s mother returns to Fiona’s alcoholic, abusive father. Fiona struggles with her desire for a “normal” family and acceptance with the popular crowd at school as she learns to stand up for her family, her beliefs and her real friends.
Unfortunately, McGuigan never finds the real story and develops it. Instead, the characters feel flat and inaccessible as they march through a parade of issues—racism, alcoholism, domestic violence, anti-Semitism, abortion, drug dealers—sometimes with the level of insight expected from a teenager, but more often with an adult perspective that resembles a history or social studies lesson. There are moments of clarity and glimpses of truth interspersed throughout the novel, but too often the characters fall in and out of the stereotypes and bigotry of the era. The ideas are there, but they are simply too big for these characters and this plot to carry successfully.
The story contains mild, recurring profanity and includes Fiona becoming intoxicated while drinking a bottle of wine with Yolanda, also an eighth-grader, and a Jewish boy who is a high school freshman.
Laurie A. Gray
Reprinted from the Christian Library Journal (Vol. XIII, No. 4/5, October December 2009); used with permission.
Posted May 9, 2009
This book made me laugh and cry. I didn't want it to end. Justwhen you think you've got these characters figured out, they do something you don't expect. The story gets down to the most important thing about being somebody's friend. Are you going to be there when they really need you? I read Where You Belong too, and this is even better.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.