Far Apart, Close in Heart

Book Review: Far Apart, Close in HeartTitle: Far Apart, Close in Heart

Author: Becky Birtha
Illustrator: Maja Kastelic
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company, 2017
Book Type: Fiction
Ages: 4-8
Theme: Coping, Prisoner Families’

Synopsis (from Amazon website):

Children can experience many emotions when a parent is in jail or prison. They may be angry, sad, lonely, or scared. Sometimes friends act differently toward them. Sometimes the children begin acting differently too. In this important book, young readers will learn that even when it feels like nothing can get better again, there are ways they can improve their circumstances. Sending letters, talking to a trusted grown-up about their feelings, and even visiting a parent in jail or prison can help keep a parent close in their hearts. Use this title as a helpful tool to start a conversation with any child in this situation and to remind them they are not alone.

Why I Like This Book:

A good book is one that moves you. One where you come out knowing more, having a greater understanding and more empathy than from before. This is one of those books.

This book covers a topic that isn’t widely discussed but is deeply important to those affected – the feelings and experiences of children of incarcerated parents. According to the backmatter there are more than 2.7 million children in the United States that have a parent in prison. This book is a mirror for them to know that they are not alone.

After reading this book, I became aware of the confusing feelings a child with an incarcerated parent might have. On one hand the child loves the parent that has cared for them, but on the other hand, the child hears messages that bad people go to jail. This book thoughtfully comes from the viewpoint that the issue isn’t about whether the parent is good or bad, but rather that the parent broke the law.

The book started off a bit too direct for my taste, but as I read I got pulled and moved to the point of tears by the end. As I read the different vignettes, my heart hurt a little more for the things these children could not take for granted that so many us can. The vignettes start by exploring the confusion, loneliness of having a parent in prison, to how that could affect the child outside the home, to showing a child how they can get help.

I love that the author used different ethnicities and genders for the children and incarcerated parents giving it a broader audience but more importantly not stereotyping any particular ethnicity.

This book is a great tool to use as a conversation starter. The backmatter is helpful for the adult caregivers and educators by providing additional resources and tips.

Find Far Apart, Close at Heart at the following spots:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound | Goodreads
ISBN-10: 0807512753
ISBN-13: 978-0807512753

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One Comment to “Far Apart, Close in Heart”

  1. Important topic. I like the title and soft illustration.

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