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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
In Phoenix Revived by Judy McCluney, classified as young adult reading, we meet a group of teens and parents living in South Phoenix where they must fight prejudice as regards immigration, and the environment as regards oil refineries. These are the big issues that add to the normal challenges of growing up. The protagonist is Sami, who has just moved to the area due to her dad having been transferred there in the Air Force. Sami is a breath of fresh air wherever she goes. She makes friends quickly, is full of energy, and cares about others. She is worried about her future because her parents will not be able to afford her college goal to become a veterinarian. She meets Robby and they become an instant couple, together making a positive force as they fight some strong battles in their spheres.
As an adult reading a young adult novel and as a lifelong teacher, Phoenix Revived is precisely the kind of book I wish youngsters were reading these days instead of books about monsters and dragons. The problems Sami, Robby, and their several friends must face are real ones—career blocks, discrimination, air pollution—yet these kids face them like young knights in shining armor. One of my favorite parts of this book is the song lyrics that pop up throughout. You see, Robbie (Sami’s other half) is an aspiring musician who faces some serious battles to reach his goal. I will buy this book for my grandkids, hoping they will adopt the enduring values of Sami, Robbie, and their compatriots at Kalima High. Phoenix Revived by Judy McCluney is exactly what young readers need these days.