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One True Friend

One True Friend

by Joyce Hansen

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Amir has finally landed in a good place. His new foster parents, the Smiths, are loving and kind, and he has been reunited with his youngest brother, whom the Smiths have raised since babyhood. Amir knows he should be happy, but he is uncomfortable around the Smiths, and his little brother doesn’t even remember him. If only Amir could find the rest of the


Amir has finally landed in a good place. His new foster parents, the Smiths, are loving and kind, and he has been reunited with his youngest brother, whom the Smiths have raised since babyhood. Amir knows he should be happy, but he is uncomfortable around the Smiths, and his little brother doesn’t even remember him. If only Amir could find the rest of the siblings he was separated from when his parents died, perhaps he would feel more at ease. Luckily, he has someone he can open his heart to—his friend Doris, who lives in his old Bronx neighborhood. The two of them share all their feelings and concerns in frequent letters. But when Doris writes Amir that a friend has been experimenting with drugs, unpleasant memories rise to the surface of his mind. In this long-awaited companion to The Gift-Giver and Yellow Bird and Me, Amir not only must find a way to come to terms with his family’s past, but he must also determine where his true home is.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Best buddies Doris and Amir return in Joyce Hansen's One True Friend. In this follow-up to The Gift-Giver and Yellow Bird and Me, much of the novel unwinds through letters revealing the solid connection between the two lonely friends now living in different cities that are worlds apart. ( Oct.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
For the past three months, fourteen-year-old orphan Amir has been living with the same foster parents who took in his youngest brother five years ago. Comforted by the fact that he has been reunited with his brother, Amir settles into a cautious relationship with the kind-hearted couple. He still is driven, however, to find his other four siblings, all separated when their parents were killed in a car accident. The one constant in Amir's life is Doris, his best friend from the old neighborhood. Their hopes and dreams and deepest feelings are shared in a series of letters that provide the foundation for the book. When Doris writes of a new friend experimenting with drugs, Amir breaks down and admits the truth about his family's life and his parents' deaths. Although the book examines the unpleasant realities of today's world, it cushions the blow by presenting issues somewhat off-camera. Instead, the focus and strength of the book is in its quiet and gentle story that explores the nature of friendship and family. The story is well crafted, and the characters are skillfully and sympathetically drawn. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8). 2001, Clarion, 160p, $14. Ages 11 to 14. Reviewer: Mary Ann Capan
After his mother and father die, Amir is placed in many different foster homes. But now he has landed in a good place. Grace and Alvin Smith are good foster parents, but Amir has trouble opening up to them. In addition, he is living with his younger brother Ronald. Still, Amir is troubled because he cannot find his other brothers and sisters. Luckily, in the end, Amir finds someone to whom he can truly open his heart: Doris, a friend who lives in his old Bronx neighborhood. Much of One True Friend is the exchange of letters between Amir and Doris, sharing all of their feelings and concerns about their respective environments. Eventually, Amir and her foster parents, the Smiths, are successful in locating the rest of the family, thus providing another problem for Amir: with whom should he live? Novelist Jane Hanson provides strong characters and a letter writing format that is carried out effectively. Above all, the plot moves because the reader becomes engrossed in the character's revealing and engaging letters. This is a companion book to Gift-Giver and Yellow Bird and Me, and it is best suited to the younger student in the young adult range. Genre: Family/Relationships. Clarion Books, 2001, 160 pp., $14.00. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: John Bushman; Overland Park, Kansas
School Library Journal
Gr 6-8-This novel about a boy recently placed in foster care has much to recommend it, though Hansen crowds a plethora of subjects into 154 pages and portions of the writing are unnaturally stiff. Amir and his siblings were separated after their parents died of AIDS. He has bounced around New York City from relatives to friends to a group home, but when the book opens he has joined his youngest brother in a foster home in Syracuse. Feeling isolated and confused, the 14-year-old initiates a correspondence with Doris, a friend from the Bronx. She offers advice and shares some of her own anxieties. As the oldest child, Amir feels compelled to search for and reunite his family. Once they are found, he must decide whether little Ronald will be better off with the foster parents who want to adopt him or with his brothers, sisters, and aunt and uncle. Amir and Doris explore the ties that bind families, the commitment that may take precedence over blood bonds, when promises to friends or relatives need to be broken, and a host of other topics. Amir comes across as a likable kid, but the burden of so many issues often overwhelms the plot as much as it weighs on the hero.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A semi-epistolary novel in which two friends help each other through hard times with a long-distance correspondence. Hansen brings back characters introduced in The Gift-Giver (1980) and Yellow Bird and Me (1986) to continue their stories. Amir, 14, an orphan whose family has been broken up, is adjusting to life in Syracuse with new foster parents, the Smiths, who have raised his little brother from the age of two. Meanwhile, Doris, 12, sends him news of his old Bronx neighborhood and writes of her friendship with a girl who she learns has a marijuana habit. The letters back and forth between the two children are buttressed by a more traditional third-person narrative of Amir's activities in Syracuse, for the story is primarily his. It's his quest to find his aunt and his other brothers and sisters to reunite his family, and his struggle to overcome the shame that clouds his memory of his parents' last days. He is a genuinely sympathetic character, his loneliness and reluctance to trust this new set of foster parents being compounded by his little brother's total attachment to the Smiths and his heartbreaking lack of memory of his birth family. In their correspondence, however, the kids come across as almost impossibly sweet; their letters have a few token grammatical errors but otherwise Amir and Doris express themselves with astonishing fluency and with a sort of forced naivete that frequently falls flat. Nonetheless, it's a good-hearted and honest treatment of kids' feelings as they cope with their own separate challenges. The story can stand on its own; newcomers to the series, though, may want to go back to the earlier books to see how Amir and Doris's friendship started. (Fiction.8-12)

Product Details

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Publication date:
Sold by:
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
720L (what's this?)
File size:
77 KB
Age Range:
10 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

James Cross Giblin (1933-2016) was the author of more than twenty critically acclaimed books for young people. His book The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler received the Robert F. Sibert Award for Informational Books.

Joyce Hansen, a former New York City schoolteacher, is a well-known author of both fiction and nonfiction and a four-time Coretta Scott King Honor recipient. Born and raised in the Bronx, Ms. Hansen now lives in West Columbia, South Carolina.

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