Identity. Such a powerful word, and so many books seek to explain it. But what is it? How we look? The groups we’re a part of? Where we come from?

In ISLANDBORN, we meet Lola, a little girl tasked with drawing a picture of the country she is originally from. The problem is, Lola left her Island as a baby and doesn’t remember anything about it.

But everyone around her does, and so she embarks on a journey to understand her homeland. She ultimately discovers that the Island IS her. The music, the fruit, the people, the bravery, the beach: it is all part of her.

This book really resonated with me. My son was born in New York City and we lived there for the first year of his life. Like Lola, he has no memory of his Island, Manhattan. But we tell him stories, we read him books and we tell him how New York will always be part of him; it will always be a part of his identity.

When Little Miss came along after we left New York City, we wondered: how could we give her a piece of this place that means so much to us, to make her feel connected there? Her identity would never include New York City they way the rest of ours does…unless we somehow made it part of her identity. And so we did. Her middle name is our street in New York (thankfully, we didn’t live on a Street or Avenue!). So now, New York City is part of her identity too.

We are shaped by so many things, perhaps none so much as where we come from. ISLANDBORN asks us to confront our origins – the good and the bad – and understand ourselves more.

A big thank you to Penguin Books for Young Readers for including me as part of the blog tour for this book, and sending me this review copy.

Now…were you waiting for the big reveal that I found it by taking 23andme? Well, here it is: We found out my mom is 100% Ashkenazi Jewish! I mean, we knew she was born Jewish but we had no clue she is Ashkenazi! It was a complete surprise! I had a lot of fun uncovering this bit of family history. Have you discovered anything unknown by taking a DNA test? Share!


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