Libraries are A KIND OF PARADISE in This Middle-Grade Debut

a kind of paradise book review graphic


In A Kind of Paradise, Jamie Bunn made a mistake at the end of the school year. A big one. And every kid in her middle school knows all about it. Now she has to spend her summer vacation volunteering at the local library—as punishment. It may be boring, but at least she’ll be able to hide from mean girl Trina, who’s always had it out for her, and beautiful Trey, the boy at the root of her big mistake.

Or so she thinks.

Summary: A Kind of Paradise

a kind of paradise book review graphicMiddle-schooler Jamie Bunn ended seventh grade with a crash. Now she’s front and center of major school scandal and has been sentenced to volunteer at her local library for the summer. In addition to her shame and guilt, she has to come to terms with eclectic library patrons, her nemesis, Trina, and her crush, Trey. Throughout her time at the library, Jamie forms new bonds with library employees Lenny and Sonia, as well as the the director, Beverly. Unfortunately, just when Jamie begins to feel at home, she discovers that the mayor has plans to shut down the library.

The Good

First off, I love the cover! A Kind of Paradise is unique in the way it’s written. Author Amy Rebecca Tan writes Jamie’s experience with each person she meets, titling related chapters by the individual’s name. So a few chapters are titled “Trina,” “Sonia,” “Beverly,” and the like. The book’s subject matter is also unique. It is clearly a love letter to libraries everywhere, and as Jamie discovers, “libraries are more than just books.”

I also enjoyed how fleshed out most of the characters are in this middle-grade novel. I enjoyed getting to know a bit more about the patrons, Sonia, and Beverly. As much as I wish other characters could have gotten similar treatment, I know it’s unreasonable. I loved all of Jamie’s mother’s sayings and enjoyed reading about her aunt Julia.

I was very curious about Jamie’s big scandal and I love the way the book handles it. It makes for a better reading experience when the writer holds out on the mystery just long enough — Tan does just that! Plus, Jamie’s error is truly grave and embarrassing, so you will really feel for her. A significant message in this book is the fact that everyone has a story and we see that through the lives of the patrons. There’s also a wonderful link to Jane Eyre and you know how I like my links to classics!

The Bad

As much as I loved it, I just wonder how well it would translate for a middle-grade crowd, since it’s so character-driven. It may be best suited for stronger readers or an upper middle grade audience (ages 10 – 14) because it does focus on adults in many parts.


A Kind of Paradise is a sweet middle-grade debut that pays (much deserved) homage to libraries and all they do for people and communities. Click To Tweet

A Kind of Paradise is a sweet middle-grade debut that pays (much deserved) homage to libraries and all they do for people and communities. The protagonist is achingly human and readers will recognize in Jamie the struggles of being young and navigating crushes. I enjoyed this book which includes interesting library patrons, an excellent single mother, and library employees who create spine poetry for fun. Overall, A Kind of Paradise is perfect for library-lovers, anyone who’s ever had a crush, and fans of Jane Eyre.

Love libraries? Check out A Kind of Paradise by @amyrebeccatan @HarperChildrens -- perfect for library-lovers, anyone who's ever had a crush, and fans of Jane Eyre. Click To Tweet

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A Kind of Paradise

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Have you read this book? What did you think? What are your favorite books about libraries or book stores? I’d love to know!

– Afoma

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