Cover Image: Justice In A Bottle

Justice In A Bottle

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Nita Simmons already has high ambitions for a little thirteen-year-old girl, intent on becoming a journalist.

When she botches an article for her school's newspaper, it puts a damper to her future plans. But when things grow bleaker for Nita, she sparks a relationship with her neighbor, Mr. Earl Melvin, with whom her own mother forbids conversation. 

Everyone knows Earl Melvin is an ex-con, but nobody cares to know the truth of his story. Nobody but Nita.

Justice in a Bottle is an account on the importance of stories and of the commitment to pursue a jarring truth. 

Although at times Nita's ignorance on the history of Black communities seems out of place, she is a sweet, diligent characters vulnerable to the insecurities and confidence of youth. The relationships between Nita and Mr. Melvin, and her best friend, and her mother, add a source of warmth throughout a serious and heartbreaking book that deals with the inheritance of America's racist past in the present.

Nita's indomitable spirit is sure to inspire many a young reader, and even those of older age groups.
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Justice In a Bottle is a compelling and hard-hitting story about a 13-year African-American girl who wants to become a journalist and, after flunking a story for her middle school's newspaper, starts writing a piece about her neighbour that spent 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. 
I really enjoyed the writing, characters (specially Earnest and Mr Hack) and topics discussed in this book, even though some concepts seem a bit too dense for kids to grasp and fully understand.
As someone who grew up wanting to be a journalist, I think this story can really inspire young people to pursue their dreams in this field.
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The title being really catchy and interesting, drew my attention to this book for the first time. I am so glad that I wasn't disappointed  with what Justice in a Bottle delivered. I haven't read a book with such a young protagonist in a really long time. I think the last time I read a book with a 13 year old main character was Percy Jackson, so I was really looking forward to reading the story of Nina Simmons! 
The story is a bit slow in the beginning, but the momentum builds up when Mr. Melvin gets introduced to the plot. The uncommon but special friendship that gets established between Nina and Mr. Melvin was really memorable. Nina's brave attitude and courageous nature made me so happy! The way the author described her journey to bring justice to a man whom no one trusted was really inspirational.
I wished that Nina knew a little more about the black movements that took place in the past, as she was an African American herself. The ending felt a bit rushed too. Other than these two aspects, Justice in a Bottle was a perfect little book. 
Justice in A Bottle will can definitely be a guide to aspiring young journalists. Young adults will find the teachings in this book useful ~ it will show them that the world isn't always rainbows and butterflies. So glad I got the chance to read this wonderful book!
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This book is about a thirteen year old girl who wants to be a journalist. She is the best reporter on her school newspaper. She is guided by her favourite teacher and her mother and accompanied by her best friend Earnest. The book begins with her trying to recover from a recent mistake. An encounter with her neighbour provides her with the opportunity to use her journalistic abilities for good and get everything she has ever wanted.
Overall it was not a bad book. However it had some eye rolling moments. I personally would not recommend it.
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3.5 ⭐
Nita writes for the school paper but her last piece was not so good so she has to redeem herself. Everybody in the neighborhood is scared of her neighbor mr. Melvin because he was in jail. She finds his notebooks, or memoirs as he calls them, out in the garden and gets curious. She thinks there could be a story there so she starts investigating mr. Melvins trial, what if he's innocent?

This book deals with friendship and trusting in yourself and others but it also deals with heavier topics like racism. It was nicely done and I enjoyed reading this book.
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Pros: Fantastic exposé on the segregation period (racism and prejudice, lynching, mass incarceration, rigged judicial system) and having an interracial relationship during this time. Loved the focus on journalism and what it stands for. PoC leads and secondary characters.
Cons: One-dimensional protagonist. Numerous abandoned plotlines, introduced and promptly discarded. Lack of complexity.
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This was a great book. The topic might be a little heavy for middle grade children, but it was well done. The story has a likable main character, good storyline, and an agreeable ending. I would definitely recommend this book. 

Thank you to NetGalley for allowing me to read this advance copy.
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My stepdaughter loves books like this so she was excited I was able to download it for her to read. It was a fun and easy to follow read.
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Middle grade fiction has been increasingly realistic regarding every day life during the Civil Rights Movement. While previously we'd seen books largely focused on lunch counter and bus protests, modern authors are looking more at other injustices especially regarding unjust laws that saw people imprisoned for years. Fanning explores marriage laws here, showing us all of the ways that lives were ruined by bad laws and narrow minds, some of which continued to be affected by public perception decades later. It's heavy, complex fare for a middle grade novel but Fanning handles it delicately. Not only is the vocabulary carefully selected for the target audience but the exploration doesn't go too deep. It's an introduction to historical (and by extension, current) inequalities in our justice system. The secondary elements of responsible journalism are worth discussing as well, as they may help young readers in understanding and evaluating the stories they read/hear. While the final scenes are a bit fantastic, it's overall a worthwhile read.
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In his debut novel Pete Fanning creates a really compelling middle grade novel that had me mesmerized. Fanning’s story is centered around Nita Simmons, a 13 year old journalist, and her ex-con neighbor Earl Melvin. As the two build their friendship we learn about Mr. Melvin’s past and the injustices he lived through in his life because of the color of his skin.

The story is slow to build at first but as the friendship between Nita and Mr. Melvin grows the storyline just had me riveted. Through journals and letters we learn about Mr. Melvin and how he came to be incarcerated. As we travel back and forth between timelines Mr. Fanning builds two different sets of relationships, those building in the past as well as Nita and Mr. Melvin’s in the present. It is this relationship that really drew me into the story. Their friendship and camaraderie became just something really special to watch.

If I had a criticism of this book it is that Nita seems really lacking in knowledge about the civil rights movement. As a young African American wanting to be a journalist in the South, I guess I’d just expect her to have a really good working knowledge of the racial tensions that occurred previously. Her astonishment at some of Mr. Melvin’s stories were a little hard to believe.

This novel would appeal to people who love novels with a historical background. I think the story would be an effective way to highlight the civil rights movement in middle grade classrooms. Its main weakness being that it is not an “own voices” novel and at times this shows in the text. 

Despite some slight weaknesses I really enjoyed this novel. Pete Fanning wrote a really compelling novel that tells the story of a really difficult period in America’s racial history.
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This is a good story and I enjoyed reading this book.

I love Nita's journey to find the truth about her neighbor, Earl Melvin a criminal in her town. She wanted to make things right because she knows he was wrongly accused. 
Gosh I feel bad for him. I can't imagine myself losing someone I love then people hating me without knowing the real reason. Phewww

Thank you Netgalley, author and publisher for Justice in a Bottle ARC!
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Such a moving story.

Initially I had given 3 stars for this book, simply because it was still fresh and the things that had bothered me throughout the story were still vivid in my mind.
But then I had some days off, thought better, and ended up recognizing that this book deserved a higher rating, since it's so sweet and touching.

I loved Nita's journey and how she was determined to make it right, something that ages ago was done wrongly to a person that she had learnt to love.
Nita was a thirteen year old kid, whose love for journalism enabled her to befriend her "suspicious" neighbor, only to find out later that he was the victim of racism crime.
It was beautiful to see how a little girl with such tenacity, could change a person's life for the better, challenging so many dogmas that our society unfortunately have.

Talking about things that bothered me... I did wished though, that we could have explored Nita's adolescence better. I wished the author could've given teenager Nita a more joyful side, because from time to time I would catch myself thinking that Nita was on her mid 20's, caring so much weight and having so many responsibilities like that.

All in all, I really fell in love with this story and can't wait to read more from Pete Fanning in the future.
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I'm having a hard time clarifying my thoughts about this book. I think it dealt with really important themes about race and love and belonging, and it was interesting to see all of that from the perspective of a precocious middle schooler, but I had a lot of issues with the flow of the writing. I think the book overall is very clunky and doesn't transition between lighter and darker moments very well. Several times without warning there were sudden references to lynching, police brutality, and racist violence; in the context of the book those are topics that absolutely make sense, but there was rarely build up or warning ahead of time, so I felt blind sided.
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I really liked the concept of the book. 
Nita is a 13-year-old aspiring journalist. She is attempting to right the wrong of her neighbour Earl melvin. Nita seems really disconnected from her history as she gets surprised by riots.  The author does a great job in emerging the reader into the story. I would recommend this book for middle-grade reads.
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I thoroughly enjoyed slowly discovering Mr. Melvin’s story along with Nita. The injustice be faced broke my heart, all for loving the wrong person at the wrong time. Definitely going to be purchasing Justice in a Bottle for my classroom library as soon as possible!
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It's not that this book is terrible, but there's little to recommend it-- other than the hair on the cover's silhouette. I have a hard time imagining most modern readers will care about Nita's story. I honestly kept wondering when this book was supposed to be set. Pacing was awkward. And no #ownvoices here. No thanks.
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Nita is a keen journalist and, until recently, the star of her school newspaper. But, for her most recent piece, she allowed her imagination to get the better of her and came up with a conspiracy theory that has made her the butt of everyone’s jokes and put a big dent in her self-confidence.
Added to that, her mum is always at work, her best friend is more interested in her pop band, and her grumpy new neighbour turns out to be the town’s most notorious criminal – Earl Melville.
Inevitably, Nita encounters Mr Melville on the porch and he doesn’t seem like the evil criminal everyone has warned her about. When she gets her hands on Mr Melville’s memoirs, left out with the rubbish, Nita begins to learn the truth about his conviction and what it was like to be a black man in her Virginia home town back in the 1960’s. Regaining her journalistic mojo, Nita is soon writing a whole new investigative piece to prove her new friend’s innocence.
This was an enjoyable read and I finished it in one sitting. Earl Melville’s story is very moving and resonates with other fiction and non-fiction I have read about the south during the civil rights era. It was interesting that the author provided a link to contemporary race riots in Richmond when Earl and Nita see the TV news. By the end of the book, Earl Melville’s story has been told and nicely resolved but nothing more is said about contemporary racism. In fact, other than seeing the riots on TV, Nita appears not to have personally encountered any racism at all, even when she interviews the – presumably, Confederate – son of the prosecutor who put Melville away, which I found surprising. 
Nita shows an unlikely degree of maturity and sensitivity for a 13-year old, and the characters of her friends Earnest and Tamika, and that of her mother, could be developed more. But this is really the story of Earl Melville, and countless real people like him, and Nita tells an important 50-year old story for the benefit of today’s children.
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Justice in a Bottle by Pete Fanning

 This story was about a girl named Nita, 13,  who wanted to be an investigative journalist but she had confidence issues. Mr. Melvin, her neighbor, was a man who spent years upon years in jail because of his skin color. Nita and Mr. Melvin formed a bond, while the community and her mother shun him. 
The cover of this book is beautiful I love the colors and the silhouette of Nita. Looking at the picture on the cover I can envision the main character. The title Justice in a Bottle has meaning. I think it means Mr. Melvin  never got justice ,even though it was bottled up for years. No one in that town  really wanted to be bothered with Mr. Melvin and his life and Nita exposes it.
 The characters in the story were relatable, caring, and understanding. We met Nita’s friends Tamara and Earnest. Those two characters were odd balls. Nita’s mother was a single mom who worked  all the time. Mr. Hack was Nita’s  crazy conscience. I really enjoy the dialogue between the characters throughout the story.
 The story line was present, smooth, and passionate. The story was unpredictable. There were a lot of twists and turns. Every page, the plot was thicken. The grammar and the tone of the story was on point. This book had me wanting more and some nights staying at up to read even more. I haven't heard of this authorr before but I would love to read more books by him. This was a great read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I do recommend it to middle grade and high school students. I give this book five stars.
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earc from netgalley.

i liked the concept of this book, but it could have been done a little bit better in my opinion, as a lot of it did not completely make sense.
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This is one of those books where the concept is good, but the execution leaves a bit to be desired.

The idea of a 13-year-old, Nita, investigating a neighbors "crime" is interesting, in itself. The neighbor was in jail for rape, for 20 years.  Nita's mother doesn't trust him, nor does the rest of the neighborhood.

But Nita sees something in him, and so tries to find out the real story, and write about it for her school paper.

In the meantime, she seems to have no knowledge of the civil rights movement. As a black child, even a 13-year-old, this seems a little odd, but I can suspend my disbelief and go with it. She seems shocked by how things were in the 1960s, and how things are in the current era. 

And she has a inner voice, named Mr. Hack, who is always making fun of her.

And she has a best friend who lost his brother, who collects junk.

And she misunderstood that the city was fixing potholes, and thought it was some sort of scandal that they were digging holes.

Good story for kids to understand how things have changed, and how things were in the south, but not so sure if having the protagonist be black and not know about any of this was the best way to go.

Thanks to Netgalley for making this book available for an honest review.
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