Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

Emily Out of Focus

Miriam Spitzer Franklin, Author

Sky Pony Press, Fiction,  May 7, 2019

Suitable for Ages: 8-12

Themes: China, Adoptions, Siblings, Travel, Photography, Family Relationships, Friendship

Publisher’s Synopsis:

Twelve-year-old Emily is flying with her parents to China to adopt and bring home a new baby sister. She’s excited but nervous to travel across the world and very aware that this trip will change her entire life. And the cracks already starting to show the moment the reach the hotel — her parents are all about the new baby and have no interest in exploring with Emily.

In the adoption trip group, Emily meets Katherine, a Chinese American girl whose family has returned to China to adopt a second child. The girls eventually become friends and Katherine reveals a secret: she’s determined to find her birth mother, and she wants Emily’s help. But both girl’s families have forbidden the girls to leave the hotel room to explore even the lobby gift shops with out adults. How will they be able to execute Katherine’s plans?

New country, new family, new responsibilities — it’s all a lot to handle, and Emily has never felt more alone.

What I like about this book:

Emily Out of Focus is a heartwarming and fast-paced read that will appeal to readers who are expecting new additions in their families through birth, adoption or fostering a child. It drew me in immediately since both our children were adopted — an older son from India and a newborn daughter locally.

Emily’s regular diary entries give readers insight into her reluctant feelings about the adoption her new sister, Mei Lin, from China.  After all, isn’t she enough? She also has fears about flying, eating real Chinese food, losing her Nana’s prized camera she’s hiding in her backpack, and not being able to really see China and taking the photos she needs to win a photographic scholarship to a special camp because she’ll be stuck in a hotel room with a new baby and family. And, then there is the secret photojournalist project she’s working on keeping to help her friend.

Emily’s shared love of photography with her deceased grandmother, who was an award-winning photographer for National Geographic, is touching. Her grandmother’s voice always seems to be around to guide her through her journey and the final project Emily focuses on at the end.

Emily’s friendship with Chinese-American Katherine, who wants to locate her Chinese mother or family members. Designated “finding spots” in China was a new concept for me. With the limitation on how many children parents could have, China has designated places where mothers can leave a new born.

Since the author is experienced in adopting children from China, the details, red tape and ceremonial dress traditions and picture-taking that are part of the process are fascinating. I enjoyed the group trips to the box store (huge Walmart) where the families buy baby clothing, bottles, strollers and diapers; the visit to the orphanage where new infants lay in little cribs close to the floor and strapped to the railings; and the visit to the “finding spot” for each adopted child.

Miriam Spitzer Franklin has been sharing her love of reading and writing with students for years as an elementary and middle school teacher. She is the author of Extraordinary and Call Me Sunflower. She currently teaches language arts to middle school students in Waxhaw, NC. Miriam lives with her husband, two daughters-one who was adopted from China, and two pampered cats in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Greg Pattridge hosts Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts on his wonderful Always in the Middle website. Check out the link to see all of the wonderful reviews by KidLit bloggers and authors.

*Reviewed from a library copy.

About Patricia Tiltonhttps://childrensbooksheal.wordpress.comI want "Children's Books Heal" to be a resource for parents, grandparents, teachers and school counselors. My goal is to share books on a wide range of topics that have a healing impact on children who are facing challenges in their lives. If you are looking for good books on grief, autism, visual and hearing impairments, special needs, diversity, bullying, military families and social justice issues, you've come to the right place. I also share books that encourage art, imagination and creativity. I am always searching for those special gems to share with you. If you have a suggestion, please let me know.

22 thoughts on “Emily Out of Focus by Miriam Spitzer Franklin

  1. Wow! This sounds like an amazing book, tying together adoption, photography, a trip to another country, and more! Thanks so much for the review!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I really enjoyed this story because of my own connection to adopting a child from another country. I can only imagine how challenging it must be for an older sibling — but exciting too.


  2. I’m glad to see more books about adoption. This one has a great premise and characters. I know little about how adoption takes place in China so I’m looking forward to learning about the details. When I can get find time to read this one is another matter. I’ll slide it in for an October read. Thanks for the review.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It is such a well-written story. And, you really get a sense of what China is like. Emily’s friend, Katherine, is adopted from China. I was really fascinated with how the trip affected her. Our son is adopted from India and has made two trips back as an adult.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow! What a book! I used to have a neighbor who with her partner adopted two Chinese babies-two years apart. Their experiences with the adoption process there was complex, and it sounds like this book covers it so well. Then when my neighbor‘s girls turned 12 and 14, she and her partner took their children back to China so they could see where they came from. An intense experience for all of them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for sharing your neighbor’s story. I was fascinated by the Chinese adoption process — there is a lot of culture built into the process, so readers will learn a lot. I’m glad your friends took their daughters back. Our son has made two trips back to his homeland of India.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This book sounds so cool and unique! I love how the grandma guides her throughout the story, that’s super cool. I love how the book is based upon the author’s real experiences too! Plus, adoption isn’t something that I feel like is something that a lot of people publish about, especially in China! This, as always, is a wonderful review! Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s