Turning the Corner

Children - Grade 4th-6th
171 Pages
Reviewed on 10/20/2022
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Author Biography

Ruozhen Ma lives in Austin, Texas, with her parents and little brother, Hanson. Born in China, she moved to the US when she was 3 years old. She is now eleven and a half years old. This is the first book she has ever written. Outside of her time writing, she also enjoys playing piano, playing soccer, and swimming.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

Turning The Corner is an adventure drama story for preteens by Ruozhen Ma. Inspired by her own experiences of re-joining school after two years of distance learning due to COVID lockdowns since 2020, Ruozhen recalls the period of adjustment she and her friends had to go through to feel like traditional fifth graders. With the advent of fifth grade also came dealing with puberty and the social cliques of school, which is never easy for any young girl. Being a Chinese American also adds to the challenges of trying to fit in. Upon her arrival in fifth grade, Ruozhen wins the student rep elections and performs spectacularly in sports, music, and writing contests. But is she prepared for middle school, where rumors, gossip, and social cliques are going to be on the next level?

The pandemic has created an unprecedented situation where schoolchildren of this generation have been forced to study from home for two years and return to the pressures and challenges of mingling with their peers in school. Ruozhen Ma, an eleven-year-old author, eloquently puts her experiences on paper and tells an engaging story any preteen can relate to. Turning The Corner represents the kids who have lost two years of their school life and now have to start anew. Ruozhen's interactions with her family, friends, and teachers feel genuine and authentic, and you can't help but find them adorable. The narrative is paced well and breezes past without a single hitch. I highly recommend this book to preteens and young adults alike.

Miche Arendse

Turning the Corner by Ruozhen Ma follows the story of young Ruozhen as she tackles life after the two-year-long pandemic. Being a young girl on the verge of puberty is hard enough but when you add pressures from parents, stress from school, and the need to fit in, it can get overwhelming. Ruozhen does her best to make the most of her time before entering middle school where all these things become even harder.

I found Turning the Corner by Ruozhen Ma to be a really interesting and introspective story. We often forget what it’s like to be a child and think that children have it easy. However, this book really allows you to go back and reminisce about your early childhood. In the same breath, I feel this story would be very relatable to many young children especially those who feel as though they are outcasts in some way. We see so many different aspects of Ruozhen’s life including the cultural aspect, which also made this book more interesting to read. I really enjoyed learning small details about Chinese culture through the story.

The writing style for this book was simplistic yet detailed which is a really great combination when it comes to children’s books. It allows children to become immersed in the story without becoming too confused by big words or complex concepts. Overall, I found this book to be really enjoyable and I think there are many children who will love this story and find it relatable in many ways.

Maria Victoria Beltran

Ruozhen Ma’s Turning the Corner is a young girl’s engaging account about going back to school after two years of distance learning. Born in China, her family moved to the US when she was three years old. Her story unfolds as she and her younger brother, Hanson, get ready to go back to in-person classes after two years of remote learning. On the first day of school, she feels insecure that her schoolmates are getting taller than her. According to the cycle of the Chinese zodiac signs, however, this is the year of the tiger, her year. As she tries to face the challenges of growing up, learning, and meeting her family’s expectations, she hopes her year will be full of good luck. This is her story.

Turning the Corner by Ruozhen Ma is an enjoyable coming-of-age story written by a promising author. Ruozhen did an excellent job of portraying the thoughts and feelings of a fifth-grader as she navigates her last year in elementary school. Fifth grade is a critical point in a child's academic career, as they transition to puberty and middle school. Going back to the classroom after two years of the Covid-19 pandemic must be daunting too. Ruozhen is a delightful character and is relatable to kids, parents, and teachers alike. It’s a book that has love, friendship, loss, fear, courage, happiness, and strength. With a straightforward plot and a casual writing style, Turning the Corner is a light and refreshing read that should make readers understand better the minds and hearts of children her age.