Cover Image: The Insiders

The Insiders

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Member Reviews

This was a sweet book that didn’t quite work. Three young people from different middle schools in different parts of the country find a mysterious room that appears when they need to escape. The three - a gay boy, a lesbian girls, and a non-binary teen - meet in the room, become friends, and help one another solve their problems. The characters were well drawn, particularly Hector and his family, but I found it a bit too rosy in its depiction of the three kids’ parents. All were uniformly supportive of the kids’ sexuality, which is spectacular, but seemed a little unrealistic. Other adults were sometimes depicted as unsupportive and were dealt with pretty well, but I thought it left out kids who might not have unconditional support at home.
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If I could get a copy of this book for every one of my middle schoolers that have come out to me, or dropped major hints, or who I've suspected may need it, I would. There's a part of me that knows adults may think of this book a little too heavy-handed, a little too afterschool special, but I work with kids every day like the ones in the book. I know for a fact the way bullying goes unaddressed, or kids' worries go unvoiced or otherwise unheard by adults like Ms. Heath. I know for a fact from my own experience years ago what it was like to feel alone as a sole queer kid -- having friendly acquaintances who I wasn't sure I could trust with the full truth of who I was, dreaming of close, safe friendships, and a magical place to escape to. I loved this book and I think my students will adore it.
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Middle school can be hard, especially for marginalized kids - kids of color, queer and trans kids, kids for whom being themselves means standing out in a way that's not always safe. Mark Oshiro's middle grade debut gives these kids the chance to fight back with the help of a magical room (think Room of Requirement) that brings them exactly what they need - each other.

Thank you to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the ARC!
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I’ve spent DAYS trying to figure out how to put my response to this book into words, specifically without spoilers. The Insiders by Mark Oshiro spoke to my 5th grade self in a way that I don’t think I realized was possible or necessary. It took the Room of Requirement and placed it in the real world and made it truly safe… in fact, Oshiro gives it that express purpose. Oshiro really taps into what it feels like and means to be a misfit and an outsider… and how validating it is to become an Insider. The characters are frustrating because they are real and flawed and children. And The Insiders felt like it could happen to me or anybody else I know that might have needed a safe place to land. I can’t wait to have this book in my hands and give it to all of the kids I know that need it… because there are a lot of us out there. Thank you, @netgalley for making this ARC available! @markdoesstuff #TheInsiders #ReadWithPride #SafeSpace #Misfits #Bullying #Readstagram #Bookstagram #BooksAndCats #CatsAndBooks #MagicalRealism #WeNeedDiverseBooks #WNDB #NetGalley
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What a book! This is such an important novel for middle grade students, especially those who were either new to a school or new to discovering parts of themselves. 

Héctor Muñoz is a new student at Orangevale having just moved from the much more open and accepting San Francisco. He is immediately singled out by the Big Bullies at the school for being different. As a result, Héctor is reluctant to dress the way he wants to and shine the way he used to, comfortable and confident in his skin as a gay preteen. 

When the bullying becomes too much, a door appears, presenting itself as a janitor’s closet. Of course, this door is not just a door, but a safe haven for Héctor… and for two other students who find themselves alone and needing a friend. The catch? These other students are from different schools. In different states. Connected through the same door that opens into a room that provides them with what they need. 

Mark Oshiro has crafted a beautiful story about finding your people and finding yourself, despite those around who wish to bring you down and keep you there. What a wonderful book for kids who will need it.
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Wonderful concept story where a safe place is provided in the form of a mysterious room for three middle schoolers who feel like outsiders. These three kids connect across states in a magically changing room that provides a refuge from bullies and pressure. The trio help each other and grow individually. Very strong characters and families, but the text gets therapy sounding at times and is just a bit too long. We as readers don’t get involved with the room until nearly half way through the book.
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Thank you to netgalley for providing an e-galley for review. Mark Oshiro's "The Insiders" is a story about the escape that we all wanted in middle school. Escape from bullies, from teachers, from ourselves. The room was there for them until they found what they needed inside themselves and other people.  While this book focuses mainly on the three characters, I especially appreciated the inclusion at the end of the rest of the characters who also needed and found the room until they also grew into themselves. This was magical realism for middle school  and dealt with all of the issues that came up with a caring and introspective voice that was not too harsh for the audience this title was intended for,.
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"Héctor Muñoz glittered. Literally." Héctor just moved from San Francisco to Orangevale. He's dressed in his best outfit and ready to shine. Unfortunately, he is almost immediately targeted by Mike and his Minions. As this bullying persists, Héctor's mornings begin with a mad dash to get away from his bullies, and he is led to the one place he never expected to have to return to, the closet. 

At first, Héctor is greeted by a lone spider that he names King Ferdinand. As Héctor's visits to the closet become more frequent, he begins to notice that the Janitor's closet isn't always in the same location. Then, one day, the interior of the closet is completely different; Héctor is exhausted and the Room provides him with a comfortable bed. Then despite sleeping for while, he was right on time for school. As the Room continues to meet his needs, he eventually discovers Sal and Juliana who also have access to the Room...from their schools in Arizona and South Carolina!

This fantastic middle grade read  speaks to the power of finding friends who will help you fight for things that matter. It also highlights that no matter what others think, you should always remain true to who you are. This excellent Middle Grade novel comes out September 21...mark your calendars now!
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As a GSA sponsor in a middle school, I REALLY appreciate that this book exists. As a librarian and teacher, I appreciate the diversity and empathy. As a reader, I appreciate the authenticity and range of characters. I actually like the fact that we never find out why Mike is a bully. He’s not the focus nor who the reader should sympathize with. I also like that each of them need others to help and stand up with them. That’s an important message. I love Hector’s grandmother. My only criticism is that it felt like the story could’ve been a bit shorter than it was.
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I liked this book a lot. The only reason I wouldn’t give it five stars is because I thought it took way too long to get to the meat of the story. Hector doesn’t find the Room until almost halfway through the book. But, the writing was engaging and kept me wanting to read more. Wonderful characters.
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The lessons to be learned in Oshiro’s middle grade debut are straightforward and accessible to young readers. The allegory employed (a room that provides what the characters need) is simple enough to be engaging and relatable to students. The inclusion of a little magic in a contemporary setting is always popular with MG readers.
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An enjoyable read, perfect for middle school children.  The novel touches on the anxiety of starting at a new school and trying to fit in, while still also trying to be true to yourself.  The characters are relatable and age appropriate.
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Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC of this book!

Going into this book, I was a bit biased, as Mark Oshiro’s book “Anger is a Gift” was so strong and impactful, and I was excited to read “The Insiders”. Overall, “The Insiders” is a solid middle grade/children’s book about belonging, change, and finding a safe/brave space in and outside of school.

The book centers on Hector Munoz (he/him). Hector decides to wear glitter on his first day at his new school to let people know what they are in for, as he is extremely proud of his drama background, and being gay. Once he gets to school he sits at the table with the Misfits, a group of students who don’t quite fit into any other mold, and who have all been bullied. Hector is targeted by the school bully, and while at first he accepts this as part of being new, the trauma begins to impact him, and he feels unsafe at school. During one particularly bad day, a door appears, leading to a Room containing his favorite beverage (Abuela’s horchata) and a place to hide. 

Strangely enough, the Room has no care for time zones or time itself, and one day Hector comes across Juliana (she/her), who lives in Charleston, SC, and finds that she is also using the room as a safe space. The bullying at Hector’s school intensifies, and Hector begins to spend more and more time in the Room. One day, after having pudding thrown at him, Hector enters the Room and finds that it has expanded. AND there is now a third person, Sal (they/them) from Phoenix, AZ. The three grow a strong friendship full of real struggles, but also real progress, which will have the reader hooked. 

Overall, I would recommend this book to middle school and (younger) high school audiences, and would keep it in the classroom. I think for the right student, this book could be highly relatable and support them in reflecting on their place in the world.
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THIS BOOK Y'ALL. DANG. 

I am up in my FEELINGS. This book has incredible diversity and LGBTQ+ rep, and a cast of kids who truly, mostly are able to handle things on their own proving how awesome kids can be. 

This book tells the tale of a queer boy who, while fleeing some cruel kids at his school, uncovers a closet that acts as a gateway to a realm of exactly what he needs at exactly the right time. Also in this closet are two other kids, facing similar hardships at their own schools, and serve as companions and friends that push each other and lift each other up.

I still have so many thoughts and feelings but all of them can be summarized by: Mark Oshiro is a beautiful wonderful soul and their books always send me right to tears. This is a MUST READ.
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The Insiders is about three kids that feel like outsiders at school. Hector is gay and from San Francisco, where he fit in and had great friends. When his family moves to a suburban town, he struggles to find his place. He meets two others with the same struggles in the janitor's closet, which is a magical room that defies time and space. Hector has a supportive family, including his abuela who helps him deal with bullying. Enjoyable book, probably more for younger readers than middle schoolers.
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Hector, gay and Hispanic, finds refuge in a magic janitor’s closet at his new rigid, suburban middle school, where he connects with two other bullied kids in different corners of the US. A promising start, depicting Hector’s extended family; a lunch table of kids who welcome him; run-ins with the school bully, a sympathetic art teacher, and an unhelpful hall monitor. The magic Room is an interesting concept, bringing 3 diverse students in need of support together. But it bogs down with message and stilted conversations between the kids that sound like therapy, losing the magic in lectures.
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This book is fantastic and different than anything I have ever read. It is fantasy that reads like realistic fiction. It tells the story of 3 middle school students who having issues belonging in their schools for different reason. The main character Hector, moves to a new town and finds himself being relentlessly bullied for being gay and different in general. When he runs away from the bully he finds himself in a magic closet that gives him exactly what he needs at the moment, including meeting 2 other friends in magic closet/room. The characters experience bullying and are not understood by their peers and the moments outside of the magic room are realistic but then they travel into this magical room that gives them what they need but maybe not what they want. It shows readers the importance of standing up for themselves and being themselves. The book represents LGBTQ teens and shows them that they belong. Highly recommend this book!!!
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This is a lovely book with great characters. It will be a great book to include in a middle grade school library.
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I loved this magical story of needing to feel safe, finding that space (and the friends along with it) and coming into your own. A beautiful story by a wonderful author.
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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There is fantastic representation of both BIPOC and LGBTQ individuals. While the kids handle things on their own for the most part, the adults in their lives are supportive and awesome. I wish that this book had existed for me when I was a kid!

Read in prepub through NetGalley.
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