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The Importance of Wings by Robin Friedman
labandbooks
proseandkahn
  This unusual story of friendship, fitting in and identity is narrated by thirteen-year-old Roxanne. She's a timid Israeli immigrant living in Staten Island with her sister, Gayle and her father. She desperately misses her mother, who has returned to Israel to nurse a sick relative. She and her sister, just as desperately want to fit in, to become American. She's terrified of appearing foolish and constantly worries about the opinion of others. She changes her name from Ravit to Roxanne in order to sound more American and she and her sister watch endless hours of televsion - Little House on the Prairie, The Brady Bunch and Wonder Woman to learn about being American. 

When Liat moves into the "cursed house" across the street, Roxanne is both thrilled and scared. She is thrilled to learn that they're the same age and scared that Liat won't like her or think she's cool, or will like her and not be cool enough. She's also worried about the curse. Liat is also from Israel, completely disinterested in changing her name and is utterly fearless. She's a lot like Roxanne's hero, Wonder Woman.

While the novel is set during the 1980's, its pop culture references, to Pac Man, among others, should be fairly easily accessible to twenty-first century readers. It also realistically portrays the experience of a young immigrant and the angst anyone might feel about fitting in, is timeless.

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