Found as a baby outside a school in China, Kelly Stroud is adopted and raised by North American parents. One day, her dad leaves the house to buy milk, and doesn't come back. Struggling anew with
Found as a baby outside a school in China, Kelly Stroud is adopted and raised by North American parents. One day, her dad leaves the house to buy milk, and doesn't come back. Struggling anew with what it means to be loved and then left behind, Kelly embarks with her mother on a journey back to China in search of her cultural roots.
The Finding Place is an adventure story which moves from urban North America to the magical landscape of Yangshuo, China. It is also the tale of a young girl's coming-of-age, written in the voice of an international adoptee whose unique perspective throws fresh light on the meaning of family: the people who raise us, and the parents who bring us into the world.
Julie Hartley lives in Toronto where she runs a creative writing school for young writers. She is a camp director, storyteller, speaker and playwright, and she has taught theatre at all levels, from elementary school to college and university. Her plays for young people have been performed in Canada, England and Ireland.
"This coming-of-age story will be enjoyed by middle schoolers, especially those with interest in adoption." — School Library Journal
"In this compelling and touching story, Hartley explores many issues related to family dynamics with a sensitive and honest hand. Themes of discovery (emotional, spiritual, and physical) and finding where you belong take on richness in this quiet tale. Readers who wrestle with cultural identity will find in Kelly a believable, though not always likable, traveling companion, one who points out paths for their own journeys." — Booklist
"What Hartley does exceptionally well is to create the atmosphere and context so that readers can understand why Kelly is acting out and what is troubling her. (The disappearance of her father is the biggest issue, but she has never gotten along very well with her mom, and she bristles when people assume she is Chinese or point out that she looks different.) However, Hartley also grounds the book in real scenarios where readers can see that Kelly is wrong to think and act as she does. She feels victimized, but readers can see that just the opposite is true. Many novels set up a situation in which it appears that everyone is out to get the main character. In this story, readers understand that Kelly often feels this way about her mom, but readers also see how hard Kelly's mom is trying to hold the family together. Kelly blames her mother for driving her father away. She thinks her mom is selfish and a liar, and readers feel her frustration while still seeing from the beginning that her father is the selfish one. This ability to balance perspectives is what gives the narrative its power. . . "The characters are well rounded and very realistic. . . The Finding Place is very readable and has good dialogue and a very lively first person narration. Readers will certainly learn something even though it might not be what they expected. Recommended" — CM Magazine
"A great story about family and self-discovery." — KidsBookshelf
"A powerfully written, emotionally vulnerable coming-of-age tale, The Finding Place delves into the meaning of family, and what real love is." — The National Reading Campaign
"Readers who enjoy learning about new cultures, exploring changing family relationships, and understanding teenage life will definitely enjoy this novel." — Resource Links Magazine
"This novel would be a wonderful book to read with upper intermediate and high school students. The novel lends itself to discussions and journal response activities. Some of the issues Kelly deals with may be similar to those faced by teenage readers, allowing them to relate well to the character." — Canadian Teacher Magazine
If you’re wondering what many of the landscapes described in the book actually look like the author has a page on her web site. Kelly’s birth village is a fictional creation, but is based on many of the villages the author visited in the area around Yangshuo. Click here to visit the author's page with pictures of the Yangshuo area that are related to the book.
Click here to see an article Julie Hartley wrote for Yummy Mummy (a blog for mothers), on Transracial Adoption, where she spoke about the adoption process and what led her to writing The Finding Place.