Fresh Perspective on the Class Divide

Today I have a book that offers a fresh perspective on the class divide.  Zoe is poor and she and her family are struggling with the choice of having a roof over their heads versus the mental abuse being thrust upon her mother by her mother’s boyfriend.  Using your voice when the consequences are so immense is never easy and Zoe struggles to help herself and her mother.

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Title: The Benefits of Being an Octopusfresh perspective on the class divide benefits of being an octopus

Author: Ann Braden

Target: Grades 4-7

Series: No

What this book is about:

Zoe does not have an easy life.  She and her siblings live with her mother and her mother’s boyfriend Lenny, in a trailer park.  Lenny may provide them with a clean place to live, but he wants nothing to do with the children.  Zoe must take care of her younger siblings so that her mom can hold down a job and take care of Lenny.  An opportunity arises for her to be a part of the school debate team, and finding her voice there, helps her find her voice at home.

Why I love this book:

  • I appreciate books that help me understand how those living in poverty manage their day to day lives.  I live in an affluent town, and it is rare for me to get a real education on what it means to live paycheck to paycheck.  Of course, I understand it on an intellectual level, but this book brings it to an emotional level that is hard to ignore.  When folks admonish poor people for not pulling themselves up by their bootstraps, I want to share the realities of how difficult that is to accomplish, and this book does that.
  • Readers will love Zoe.  She is making difficult choices on a daily basis.  Life really isn’t fair as she navigates what she wants her life to become.  Having to display greater strength than her mother is something no kid should have to do, but she must none the less.
  • Interesting inclusion of the gun debate in this book.  While not the central theme of the story, it does weave in the issue as part of the debate club and the author is involved in gun violence prevention.  Both sides are represented in the debate.

Who this book is for:

Reminded me of books such as Front Desk, Why Can’t I Be You and Wish, where children are dealing with the effects of poverty.  If your child liked those, this one will be a hit.  Great for kids who like realistic fiction.

Final thoughts:

The cover could use some work.  Hopefully, it will get a revamp when it comes out in paperback!

To purchase this book:

Click on the following link to connect to Amazon: The Benefits of Being an Octopus.  A portion of each purchase will support this blog at no cost to you.  Thank you for your support.