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What Makes Us    by Rafi Mittlefehldt order for
What Makes Us
by Rafi Mittlefehldt
Order:  USA  Can
Candlewick, 2019 (2019)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Eran Sharon has long resented the fact that his mother will tell him nothing about his father, whom he only vaguely remembers from when he was a toddler. They live in a suburb of Houston, and Eran is a senior in high school.

Eran decides to launch a peaceful protest against a Houston police plan to increase traffic stops, even though his friends don't consider it a serious enough issue. Little did he know where this would lead. He leads the march, accompanied by his friends Declan and Jade. Jade is 'careful and controlled, elegant and precise', a good foil for the hot tempered Eran.

The march gets much more attention than anyone expected, with strong media presence, and police supporters. When one of the latter gets in Jade's face, Eran loses his temper and shoves him - a mistake as a newspaper reporter then digs up the past. Eran - and the entire community - learn that his father set off a bomb fifteen years before, killing others and dying himself.

Suddenly, people Eran has known all his life see him and his mother differently. She's fired, he's suspended from school, and they're both shunned, with a movement to run them out of town. While deeply resenting this treatment, Eran starts to wonder how much he is his father's son - and how much his mother really knew about his father's plans. At the same time, Jade deals with her own family secrets.

What Makes Us is a well told, thought provoking tale - all about learning from mistakes, learning to listen, and understanding who you really are. It's also about the importance and power of friendships.

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