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Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Don’t Let Me Go by Jamila Mikhail is an enchanting take on the young adult genre as it features an inanimate toy soldier that not only comes to life but has an existential crisis as well. Here we have a young girl named Joanie, who is struggling to make sense of her parents’ divorce and having difficulty adjusting to the new relationships that her mom and dad found respectively. This turns her life upside down, and she finds herself isolated in the town of Bluepond, where the only true friends she has are her dolls. She has a passionate interest in crafting dolls ranging from film characters, soldiers, and people she meets on a daily basis. Among her masterpieces, Adler, a Wehrmacht soldier and member of the German Resistance, is the most beautiful and most detailed. She is in complete awe of him and one day he comes to life! It appears that Adler is a Keeper—a soul from a different existence who comes into the metaphysical world to provide guidance for fellow humans. Their friendship is then challenged by both physical and metaphysical elements that influence the course of their lives.
Reading Don't Let Me Go will make you wish that the story never ends, but you also want Joanie and Adler to find the meaning that they have been looking for. Jamila Mikhail has managed to weave questions and concerns into a plot for this fairy tale. On top of that, she does not want her readers to be limited to being entertained; she provides relevant reading questions at the end of the story as a form of self-evaluation to see if you learned anything from the book. While stories about toys or puppets coming to life have been done before, Don't Let Me Go treats you to elements that will surprise you with the philosophical and spiritual blending to break what is predictable. It is a disservice to simply call this young adult fiction for it offers something far more than fantasy and entertainment.