Can you imagine moving from Chicago, IL, to Scotland right before you start your senior year of high school? In Minnesota-based author Julia Lee’s Seven Stones, Keilann Douglas has to do just that, and she has to assimilate to a new culture while maintaining a connection to her Ojibwe roots. She faces her first romance, fighting with her younger sister, being bullied, secrets from her mother, and to top it off, she encounters a stone circle with mysterious powers.
I was pulled into the story right off the bat as Keilann faces a nightmare on the eve of her move to Scotland, and the image of a man on fire burned itself into my mind. What kind of significance would he have in this story?
Little did I know this was just the tip of the iceberg to kick off Keilann’s journey. Once she arrives, she soon encounters the school bully, and these days we know that bullying is nothing to take lightly. Lee’s description of their interactions are visceral and will leave you with nothing but pure empathy for Keilann.
And on the flip side, Keilann meets Ben and the sparks are flying in no time. He’s such a likeable character and serves to help Keilann learn a lot about herself with various nuggets of wisdom that I feel like need to be heard from a peer and not a superior. Sure, Keilann is close with her mother and greatly respects both of her parents, but most would agree that it’s sometimes easier to take things to heart from someone who’s more of an equal.
Ye stay on the edges, away from everyone because it’s easier than getting to know people. People don’ fit into yer neat little boxes if ye know who they really are.
Yer afraid of finding out that yer worth a damn.
Oh yeah, and there’s a bonus – you get to read Scottish accents!
As she’s learning how to deal with both the mean boy and the nice boy, Keilann also has to figure out the mysterious pull to the stone circle in the woods behind her house. Strange things happen while she’s there that even end up putting her life in danger. As she dives farther and farther into what – and who – she encounters there, it’ll leave you wondering if the myth/legend could really happen.
Lee has written Seven Stones at the young adult reading level, but as a 30-something, I could not put this book down. I felt like I went back to high school, trying to maneuver my way through body issues, boys, school work, and figuring out how to fit into two different cultures. Keilann loves her Native American side but doesn’t feel 100% acceptance from them because her mother chose to leave the Reservation. But of course, she also desperately wants to fit into everyday Scottish life (and humorously learns the hard way about some of their culinary delicacies) so it’s a lot for one young woman to balance.
I can relate because my mom is from Korea, and my dad is Caucasian so it took me a long time to figure out how to fit into both worlds in a way that worked for me. Being a teenager is hard enough when you’re not trying to factor in multiple ethnicities and cultures. After you devour Seven Stones, I encourage you to look into myths and legends from your own culture (or cultures, as the case may be). You might be surprised by what you find.
I would recommend Julia Lee’s Seven Stones to anyone in their teenage years and older. While I’m inclined to say it’s geared more towards young women, I think young men would enjoy it as well, along with people of any ethnicity. Keilann is so easy to relate to, and Lee’s writing will hold your attention and keep you wondering what will happen next. Enjoy the trailer below as well as more information about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, then click here to purchase Seven Stones.
The Multicultural Children’s Book Day team’s mission to spread the word and raise awareness about the importance of diversity in children’s literature. Our young readers need to see themselves within the pages of a book and experience other cultures, languages, traditions and religions within the pages of a book. We encourage readers, parents, teachers, caregivers and librarians to follow along the fun book reviews, author visits, event details, a multicultural children’s book linky and via our hashtag (#ReadYourWorld) on Twitter and other social media. The co-creators of this unique event are Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom and Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book/Audrey Press. You can find a bio for Mia and Valarie here.
Multicultural Children’s Book day 2016 Medallion Level Sponsors
Multicultural Children’s Book Day has 12 amazing co-hosts, and you can view them here.