Catherine McTamaneyIt's 1970 and thirteen-year-old Maya is a kid sorting a lot out on her own. Sent by her mother to live with her grandmother, Maya wants to know why she had to leave the life she knew, a life made even more challenging when her father goes missing in Vietnam. At first angry and sullen, Maya wants to rebel against her grandmother, until she discovers a part of her family's history that she'd never known before, and she realizes that she has a lot to learn from both her mother and grandmother. Well-intentioned, Seattle Blues is weakened by an inconsistent writing style and an underdeveloped voice for Maya. The many challenges that Maya faces, from race riots to autism, seem forced, making the narrative cumbersome. This novel is best recommended for students who are already interested in the story's emphasis on the redeeming power of music. Reviewer: Catherine McTamaney
VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton-JohnsonThirteen-year-old Maya has more than her share of reasons to be furious. The government has recently announced that her father is MIA somewhere in Vietnam, and her mother is so busy taking college courses that she decides to send Maya to Seattle to spend the summer with a grandmother she has never met. Once the long bus ride from San Francisco is complete, Maya convinces herself that she has options. If staying with Grandma Ruby does not work out, she can take the thirty or so dollars she stole from Mom's purse and split. Maya and grandma adopt a cat named Harry S. Truman and quickly establish a routine that includes working at the library three times a week, spending time with Tommy, an autistic boy with the gift of playing the piano, and learning more about the joy of music. As one might expect, by the end of the summer, Maya learns to love her grandmother, Tommy, and even Seattle. Because this novel is the author's first, aspects of it will possibly prompt discussions about the author's craft, particularly the scene where Maya rescues an elderly man (Is it realistic?); the inclusion of an autistic neighbor (Is this merely a gimmick?); and the happy ending (Are things wrapped up too quickly and easily?). Teens will enjoy the blossoming friendship between strangers (Maya and Grandma, Maya and Tommy, and Maya and her trombone teacher), and they will also be tuned into the slow unraveling of grandma's fractured relationship with Maya's mother. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton-Johnson
School Library JournalGr 4-7–Exiled to Seattle for the summer with a grandmother she has never met, Maya, 13, is mad. With her father MIA in Vietnam and her mother back in college in San Francisco, she plots to escape Grandma Ruby, at first pouting petulantly and later manipulating the stern widow with false charm. Maya wonders why Ruby and her mom are estranged and searches the old house for clues to her African-American heritage. Maya and Ruby slowly warm up to one another, sharing an interest in Tommy, an autistic boy who is a musical savant and comes over to play Ruby’s piano. When Tommy discovers Maya’s grandfather’s trombone in the attic, Maya learns of her grandparents’ shared career as jazz musicians and discovers her own musical gift. She grows from a self-centered, immature brat into a caring, considerate girl sharing genuine love with Ruby, who reveals the tender secrets hidden by her protective shell. The 1970 setting remains incidental to the story. Maya’s participation in the local peace movement, only mentioned in passing, erupts in a jarring scene at a protest march, and her fear for her father is underdeveloped. Maya is a very young 13-year-old, with a little girl’s emotions and reasoning and no mention of puberty. The sound development of the two main characters and their warm relationship will appeal to upper elementary girls, but this will be a hard sell to middle school readers.–Joyce Adams Burner, National Archives at Kansas City, MO
Write a Review
and post it to your social network
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
See all customer reviews >
Seattle Blues based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Seattle Blues by Michael Wenberg takes place during the summer of 1970. Maya Thompson's life has been turned upside down... Her father is MIA in Vietnam, and her Mother has sent her off to spend the summer with her Grandmother that she's never met. Maya decides to do everything that she can to be sent back home. In the midst of her scheming, Maya actually uncovers a great deal about her family history and learns how to come to accept the changes in her life. This book had me sucked in from the first chapter. The early 70s were a very tumultuous time in American history. It was interesting and eye-opening to experience this story through the eyes of a 13 year old African American girl. I really like how some history of Jazz music was woven in to the story which was mainly about how a young girl handles all the major upheaval in her life. Another book I'll be recommending to my friends! Reviewed by: Catrina P.