Book Review


The Vanderbeekers of 141st street

The Christmas season was setting in and there was festivity in the air. I always love this time of the year when we have holidays and we exchange gifts, the colorful lights and decorations all usher in a feeling of rejoicing. And, ‘The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street’ was the perfect gift to get during these holidays as the story is around the time of Christmas. The book is around 300 pages long and its genre is realistic fiction. The author is Karina Yan Glaser.It was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company in 2017.

The main characters of this book are the Vanderbeekers who live on 141st Street in Harlem. The family has five children ranging from 4 to 12 years of age. They love their quaint home and one fine day the parents announce that their grouchy landlord, Mr. Beiderman has refused to renew their lease. This comes as a big shock and this would mean disrupting the family. So, the children hold a meeting and decide to do whatever they can to make the landlord change his mind.

It is less than a week until Christmas, the children set to work to win over “the Beiderman” by making little gifts for him. When this fails to yield positive attention, they urge neighbors to sign a petition to keep him from evicting them. They even lie to a prospective buyer so that he doesn’t come to tour their home.

Wishing to leave no stone unturned, the kids try to learn more about Mr. Beiderman, hoping to understand him better. They discover he was an art history teacher at a nearby college. They also find out that his wife and 16-year-old daughter, Luciana, were killed when a taxi hit them. The children begin to understand why their landlord is so unhappy. The make up their minds to do whatever it takes to make Mr. Beiderman cheerful. After all their efforts, he finally admits how much the children’s kindness has moved him and he joins the family for Christmas and asks them not to leave.

This is Karina Yan Glaser’s debut novel, and her modern family narrative preserving a fresh innocence. The book tells us that our home is the best place in the world and the diversity of the folks on the block and the minute details, Glaser’s 141st Street often feels like Sesame Street. During the Christmas dinner, the father gives a heartfelt toast dedicated to the good neighbors who have helped nurture his children. It is a warmhearted story highlighting family and community bonding which is essential for the upbringing of a child and which is often missing in the busy lives of today’s world.

This book is recommended for readers of grade five. If you’ve read this book and liked it, you should read the next book in the series which is The Vanderbeekers and the hidden garden. Karina Yan Glaser has written only 4 books till now including these two books. Her third book is in the Vanderbeekers series and her fourth book is called ‘On Reste ici’ a French phrase which in English means – ‘we stay here’.

I give this book 3.8 out of 5.

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