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Review: A Winding Road by Paulette Johnson

Paperback: 108 pages Publisher: Outskirts Press (February 26, 2014) |  Amazon  |  Barnes and Noble

Paperback: 108 pages
Publisher: Outskirts Press (February 26, 2014) | Amazon | Barnes and Noble


Brian Duncan, a twelve- year- old boy, dreams of coming to America. On his arrival in New York, his expectations are dashed by his experiences and that of his family. He becomes despondent, depressed, and homesick and dreads going to school. Brian, in this vulnerable state, is befriended by a kid who introduces him to street-wise activities which could have serious consequences. During one of these 'errands', an unsuspecting Brian becomes part of a police investigation, resulting in his parents threatening to send him back to his home country. He is scared to lose his freedom on the one hand, and his family on the other. He chooses to stay in school, and work hard at improving his grades if he is to achieve the American Dream. He makes new friends, studies hard, and throws his energy into playing basketball. However, when his family falls on hard times, Brian thinks that he can be of some financial assistance by returning temporarily to that way of life that got him in trouble in the first place. The consequences of that decision are devastating. He is finally convinced after his traumatic experience that to go down that winding road can not only be dangerous but also deadly. (less)


I cannot imagine growing up as a teenager today. In a society where young kids are going through so much in terms of social pressures dealing with their peers, A Winding Road, gives such a relevant perspective that I think many can identify with especially dealing with bullying and being different. This story, geared more towards the preteen genre, introduces us to Brian Duncan who not only dealt with the perils of not fitting in but also having to acclimate himself to a new culture in new country.

Prior to coming to the United States, Brian not only was a dreamer but had this picture perfect image of the US, always wanting to go there. When an opportunity came for the Duncan family to come to the US, everything he dreamt it would be was coming before his eyes. Coming to the US and living the American Dream was everything he ever wanted. As soon as soon as he got settled, the reality of it turned into a nightmare when life took an unintended direction he never expected or intended. Trying to fit in, he finds out the hard way learning how some decisions can have dire consequences. As he faces this new journey, we see he face a long road that gives him a new appreciation and perspective on his life.

The book overall I thought was a nice story that had a very good perspective that could be relatable to kids his age, especially those emigrating to this country. What is special about this book is how many people take for granted the life we have here but to someone who isn’t a native citizen, we get a perspective through this young character that seems innocent and open to the possibility of how great this country is. There are many lessons that this teaches that open the young reader to the understanding right and wrong, social acceptability, friendship, morality, hope and familial influences. For what the book was about, it would’ve been great to have a deeper connection with the character that could draw you closer. Many things happen to him in the book, so a better understanding of how he was feeling and the why’s of what happened would’ve had made this soar over the top. Despite that, it was a nice read that the younger reader could learn from. 

Reviewed by Michelle Bowles

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