The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold is a book about immigration and belonging for ages 9-12. It follows the story of Gabrielle, a Haitian girl who immigrates to America. But, ten-year-old Gabrielle must leave her family and friends behind in Haiti. She goes to live in Brooklyn, New York with relatives she has never met. After being bullied at school, Gabrielle tries hard to fit in and become the perfect American. But, to do so she works with a clever witch. In her quest to become American, will Gabrielle lose herself? And when she discovered that the witch has a clever plan up her sleeve, will she be able to stop it?
The Year I Flew Away was an engaging book because not only was it about immigration and identity but it also had a quite good magical aspect. The characters were well developed and funny at times, and they really helped develop the story. There were all the aspects you want in a story of this kind, magic, comedy, a teacher/mentor, plot twists, and a reason for the fight. But, I found the book a little boring at first. The beginning is a little bit slow, although it is better than the beginning of some other books I’ve read. However, I did enjoy the cultural elements at the beginning of the book. Overall, I would give this book 3.75 stars (3.5 is too few and 4 is too many) because it is good, but a little slow and boring in parts.