Other Editions: Hardcover
With my old-people lunches in wrinkled plastic bags, I was basically a freak of nature at Parker Junior High. Like, "Come see the kid with seven heads" or, "Come see the kid who's alive in a jar." Everything I did -- opening my locker, turning in homework, drinking from the water fountain -- was so freakish the whole school had to stare. I didn't even have to do anything stupid like trip or spill food. Just by being myself, I was the most ridiculous person alive.
After getting suspended from school, Ethan Oppenheimer is uprooted from his comfortable suburban life in Pennsylvania and sent to live in Washington, D.C., with grandparents he hardly knows. At Parker Junior High, he stands out as the only white student. Making friends there is difficult; fitting in, impossible. It doesn't help that his overprotective grandparents expect him to live their old-fashioned, frugal lifestyle.
As he tries to find his way in this new world, Ethan also struggles with issues from the world he left behind -- guilt about the events surrounding his suspension, anxiety about his parents' separation, loneliness for the company of his family and friends.
Slowly, Ethan adjusts. He makes a few friends; he joins the jazz band and learns a new instrument; he even gets used to dried-out dinners at 4:30 pm. Along the way he learns a lot about prejudice and acceptance -- and about himself and his changing family situation.
Read a review of the book by our own Rachel Bomberger on EerdWord
AWARDS and RECOGNITIONS
VOYA, Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers (2007)
Horn Book Guide
"The story explores racism and maturation from an unusual angle."
"A lovely young adult novel about prejudice and acceptance."
Jewish Book World
"A first novel by an educator in Washington, D.C., this book is extremely well-written and always holds the reader's attention. . . Recommended for junior high readers as a true-to-life story they can relate to."
"Ethan's struggle to fit in is alternatively humorous and bittersweet. Ethan is a likable protagonist, and his narration effectively draws the reader into the story."
Center for Children's & Young Adult Book Notes
"Ethan, Suspended doesn't provide simple answers but will intrigue junior high readers with the questions [it] raises about friendship, family, and loyalty."
Booklist (starred review)
"Ehrenberg focuses on themes of race and class without sounding preachy. . . . Ethan's first-person narrative about his family conflicts drives the story and reveals the issues. Best of all are the portraits of his scrappy Jewish grandparents."