I received a copy of KIKI AND JACQUES from the publisher, Holiday House. This is a debut novel for author Susan Ross that was featured in their Fall catalog.
KIKI AND JACQUES by Susan Ross
Published by: Holiday House
Release Date: August 17, 2015
Genres: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Twelve-year-old Jacques’s mother has passed away, his father is jobless and drinking again and his grandmother’s bridal store is on the verge of going out of business. Plus he’s under pressure from an older boy to join in some illegal activities. At least Jacques can look forward to the soccer season. After all, he’s a shoe-in for captain.
But the arrival of Somali refugees shakes up nearly everything in Jacques’s Maine town, including the soccer team. So Jacques is surprised to find himself becoming friends with Kiki, a cheerful and strong-minded Somali immigrant. Despite their many differences they are able to help one another triumph over problems with friends, family and growing up.
While the description above sounds intriguing, and I actually began reading the book with high hopes, I was left disappointed on many counts.
I wanted to like Jacques, the POV main character, but I never really got to know him. Even when he made references to missing his dead mom, I didn’t feel the emotional connection. There was something lacking for me.
The story was entertaining enough, but fairly predictable and nothing too extraordinary happened. I didn’t feel the characters struggling. The big question of “What’s at stake?” didn’t feel big enough or maybe I just didn’t connect with the characters enough.
With a title containing two character names, you would expect this relationship to be pivotal to the plot of the story, but it’s not exactly the main focus, which I found disappointing.
Most of the problems resolved too quickly, and many not by Jacques himself taking decisive action. The shake up of the town with the arrival of the refugees, which wasn’t really shown, resolved with one social event at the church.
Overall, there were too many missed opportunities that would have made this tale exceptional. Instead, for me it was just okay.
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