Monday, November 20, 2017

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. Karina Yan Glaser. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 297 pages. [Source:

First sentence: In the middle of a quiet block on 141st Street, inside a brownstone made of deep red shale, the Vanderbeeker family gathered in the living room for a family meeting.

Premise/plot: Meet the Vanderbeeker children: Isa and Jessie, Oliver, and last but not least Hyacinth and Laney. These siblings will team up (mostly) to work for the common good of the family: to change their landlord's mind and to 'save' their home. The novel opens five days before Christmas. The family meeting is about their lease not being renewed. They have to be out of their apartment in the brownstone by January 1. Their landlord is "the Beiderman." He never leaves his apartment, yet without knowing him or his story, the children have judged him a mean, old grouch. They've never gone out of their way to be kind to him before, but, with new motivation they're willing to try anything and everything to get on his good side. (Does he even have a good side they wonder!) The family does not want to leave Harlem.

My thoughts: I really loved this one. What I really enjoyed about this one was the family itself. I loved meeting all the siblings. If I had to pick a favorite it would be OLIVER. But I'm glad I don't have to pick. How much did I love this fictional family? I wouldn't mind a five book series--or more! There is an old-fashioned feel to this one that I also enjoyed. The story itself is more predictable than not. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing. Would I have wanted an unhappy ending? Would I have wanted the Beiderman to stay the GRUMP? Even though I knew exactly where this story was heading, I didn't see the how right away. (I love that the how involves a cute and adorable KITTEN.) I also loved the message of this one. I think Atticus Finch would approve.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Ms. Yingling 6:12 PM  

I couldn't believe the parents were so unprepared! I sort of wanted the Biederman to throw the family out into the street because they didn't take him seriously enough to find somewhere else to live! Sort of ruined the whole story for me.

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