Review: The Magical Imperfect

 The Magical Imperfect

by Chris Baron

Feiwel and Friends (imprint of Macmillan)

Category: Middle Grade
Reviewer: Sarah Aronson

When you don’t talk a lot
I think your ears get stronger.
—Chris Baron, The Magical Imperfect 
A historical fiction novel in verse, Chris Baron’s The Magical Imperfect is an emotionally powerful story of friendship, family, acceptance, Jewish mysticism and values, and the importance of community.
It’s 1989, the Giants are vying for the playoffs, and Etan is not speaking. His mutism is triggered by his mom, who has left for the hospital to focus on her mental health issues. When his neighbor sends him to a house on an errand, he connects with Malia, a girl with a skin condition, who his peers have dubbed The Creature. The two of them quickly become friends. With a talent show on the horizon, Etan wants to give her his grandfather’s special (and mystical) clay from Prague to heal her skin. 
Read this book with tissues! Baron’s poetry pulls us in quickly to Etan’s heart and yearning. He also gives us stories of immigrants who arrived in San Francisco from all over the world. The clay’s magic and references to the Golem story sends readers into a generational conflict about faith and religion and what it means to be Jewish. Of course, there’s also baseball and in 1989, that means a big earthquake is coming. 
This heartfelt narrative has everything it needs to be a Sydney Taylor Book Award winner. Readers young and old will love all the characters in this story—including the adults! Baron has created a story filled with Jewish values as well as a coming-of-age story. Highly recommended.
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Reviewer Sarah Aronson began writing for kids and teens when someone in an exercise class dared her to try. Since then, she has earned an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and published both picture books and novels. 
When Sarah is not writing or reading (or practicing yoga or riding her bike), she loves working with other writers in one of her classes at the amazing Highlights Foundation or Writers on the Net. Like tips? Sign up for her weekly newsletter: