Cover Image: Continental Drifter

Continental Drifter

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Member Reviews

Cute book! I think my kids would like it and it would be a nice salve for kids who have had to move.

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Continental Drifter is a heartwarming graphic memoir about Kathy, whose Dad is from Maine and Mom is from Bangkok, and how she navigates the feeling of not belonging to either side entirely. We follow Kathy over the course of a year as she's living in Thailand and counting down the days, as she continuously does, until her family's annual summer trip to Maine. This year, Kathy gets to attend a sleep-away camp for the first time, and she's thrilled to escape the suffocating loneliness she feels. Unfortunately for Kathy, those feelings follow her and we see how she learns to accept more parts of herself. This is a great read for all who enjoy graphic novels, and anyone from a mixed background. Thank you to First Second Books and NetGalley for an eARC in trade for my honest review.

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Excellent middle grade graphic novel exploring one family’s journey moving between cultures and learning more about themselves. This title could fit with the NEA Big Read theme as well.

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Kathy MacLeod has written such a compelling graphic novel memoir of identity, fitting in, and reliving her childhood summers in Maine in the 80s and 90s. This was so novel to me in that she lived in Bangkok, Thailand, and had an interracial family, yet her summers in the US were so relatable to me. I could definitely recall the joy of shopping at the mall and the fun of summers spent in nature.

I was surprised that in some ways she felt like she didn't belong in either culture, but has since grown to love all the parts of her upbringing. I think this book will be so relatable for children who are caught between two cultures and possibly feel like they don't fit in either one. I highly recommend this book for libraries and schools!

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Trying to find your place in the world…what kid or adult doesn’t go through this? Kathy, who is half Thai/half American is just trying to figure out where she belongs. Is she more American than Thai or vice versa? She travels with her family back to her father’s home town in Maine with the hopes of discovering where she belongs. The discomfort she has about how her family may be perceived by others comes across in both the dialogue and the illustrations. This graphic novel memoir was a solid representation of a bi-racial/bi-cultural AAPI tween trying to navigate to very different worlds. Thank you NetGalley for the e-ARC.

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In Bangkok, Kathy, half Thai, half white American, is used to feeling alone. Even when they are together, her older sister and parents lead separate lives, not at all like the American sitcom families Kathy longs to emulate. At eleven, a rare summer vacation to her dad’s home state of Maine, complete with sleep away camp, offers the promise of finally fitting in. Lined paper chapter headings, and faux stickers, compliment polished, childlike cartoon panels, immersing readers in a visceral reimagining of Kathy’s childhood struggle to feel ‘normal’ and belong. The depth of detail, truly helpful advice from a wise camp counselor and Kathy’s evolving and mature introspection distinguish this story from the legion of other graphic memoirs about bi-cultural kids. Readers who follow Kathy’s journey may come away with a shift in perspective that offers healing insight. Thanks to First Second and NetGalley for an Advance Readers Copy in return for an honest review.

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Thanks to #netgalley for an advanced reader copy! I'm always looking for high-interest books for my high school students. And when they have authentic biracial/bi-cultural/AAPI representation? Even better. This book was so good at illustrating (figuratively and literally) the struggle of biracial and bi-cultural children. As the parent of a biracial child, I try to find representation of this wherever I can. This book was funny, sad, frustrating, and beautiful. I just recommended it to our librarian for purchase.

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Solid art that keeps the eye moving and the reader engaged. A fun but moving family story that will resonate with kids whose identity lies in two heritages and separate locations, as well as with anyone who has ever felt like an outsider to peers who don't seem to have to try.

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E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

In this graphic novel memoir, we get insights into the life of the author, who was born in 1984. Her parents were older; her mother, the founder of a chain of salons in Thailand, and her father, a retired military man from Maine. Both had children from other marriages. The family lives in Bangkok, where Kathy and her older sister Jennie attend an international school where many of the children are multiracial. Kathy sometimes doesn't feel that she is Thai enough because she doesn't speak the language well or like spicy food. She looks forward to the family trips to Maine. When she is middle school aged, not only does she get to go to Maine to spend time with family, but she gets to go to summer camp, which makes her think that she will finally get to experience US life the way she sees it on television shows. She loves seeing her father's family, and her aunts Barbie and Louise are talkative and fun, interacting with their families in a warm, casual way that the MacLeods don't interact in Thailand. Even though she feels out of place in Maine, worrying that people question where the family is from, she loves going to the mall and Old Country Buffet and hanging out with cousins. Camp is a little more stressful, because people assume she's from Taiwan instead of Thailand, and make fun of her for not knowing current talk show hosts and having paper underwear that her mother packs for emergency laundry situations. Kathy says "There will always be something not right about me," and gets only the most minimal support from her camp counselor, Bri. The family returns to Thailand even though they all seem happier in Maine; the author now lives in Germany.
Strengths: I liked the illustration style of this, and the pale blue and white give way to the more vibrant blues and greens of Maine in an effective way. Kathy's unhappiness is so apparent. It's good to see that she does have a small outlet in diary keeping and drawing, and she doesn't have a bad relationship with her sister; it's just that she's five years olf and that's a lot during middle school. The family scenes are wonderful, and she does get to meet her 40-year-old half brother Scott for the first time. The family photos at the end of the book tie this up nicely.
Weaknesses:This was sad in a way that makes me worry that the author is still not happy. I know this is based on real life experiences, but I wished that young Kathy had had more support than just one camp counselor.
What I really think: This is a good choice for fans of Telgemeier's introspective graphic novels, Waka Brown's While I Was Away, or Matula's The Not-So-Perfect-Life of Holly Mei.

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I think CONTINENTAL DRIFTER is a great middle grade graphic memoir if you loved the recent offerings in the genre from Dan Santat, Christina Soontornvat, or Rex Ogle. It deals with feeling torn between two cultures and two worlds, finding your fit in your family, and figuring out your identity as you approach adolescence. Touching and compelling, with clean art throughout.
3.5 stars from me!
Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance digital copy.

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macleod's graphic memoir can be enjoyed by young readers and adults alike, touching on feelings like loneliness, belonging, and growing up. young kathy's desire to bridge both of her ethnic identities is achieved in such a tender way, and the story, while quiet and nuanced, is very clear in what it's trying to tell. some parts felt a bit sparse for my taste--for example, it would have been nice to get a bit more about kathy's cousins, even just their names--but all in all, this was a sweet read that was very apparently a love letter to what "home" meant to the author as a girl.

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A wonderfully illustrated graphic memoir by Kathy MacLeod. Kathy is Thai and American and lives in Thailand with her parents and older sister. Her father is American and her mother is Thai. Kathy feels suspended in both worlds. When Kathy and her family go to America Kathy is excited. She's going to summer camp for the first time and cannot wait to make new friends. Yet, when she gets there it's not exactly as she's planned. She feels like an outsider because she doesn't look like everyone else and neither does her family. The only thing that seems to help is writing in her diary. Can Kathy close the gap she feels being from two different worlds?

Readers will fall in love with Kathy's story and her storytelling abilities. Muted cool toned spreads helps show the anxiety that Kathy is feeling.

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Feeling different can be lonely, but feeling different and being different aren’t necessarily the same. Kathy, whose mother is Thai and father is American, can’t seem to find her place in life. But another summer in America - along with her guest summer camp experience - help young Kathy to understand her unique qualities, the importance of family, and the meaning of friendship.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for letting me read this book in exchange for an honest review!

This was a lovely read! I appreciated the author sharing her experiences of living between cultures and identifying with one culture more than another. I have read books where characters/the people the stories are about find peace with both cultures they're part of, but not a lot where one culture feels so foreign that you can only identify with the other (or neither). This isn't an experience that I've personally had, so I've appreciated the nuance this book adds to stories like this. Even better that it's written from such a young perspective. I could see this book working well for my classroom.

I'm looking forward to re-reading this book already in the future!

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Fab! Loved the illustrations, especially the colours used. I really enjoyed how the author really showed how she felt as a child, like she didn't really belong in either of the places her parents were born and how much she would long for one when she was in the other. I think this book will really help children in our school who have moved from another country, to see that it's ok to embrace and enjoy multiple cultures and traditions and that there isn't a right or wrong way to be.

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Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read the ARC for this book. Many readers can relate to the main character Kathy as she tries to figure out how she fits into the two different worlds that she inhabits. It accurately captures the age with summer camp insecurities and the challenges of making new friends when you feel that you don't truly belong.

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As a lonely third-culture kid, I drifted between continents trying to find a place to belong and a language to love. If only I had Continental Drifter in those dark and scary years!

This beautiful graphic novel is a brave exploration of the loneliness and confusion of an inter-cultural childhood, spent between Thailand and USA. The author opens up her past with an exquisite gentleness that doesn't judge or provoke, only illuminates. I share so much of Kathy's experiences that the book feels therapeutic - a much needed bandage for my own childhood scars.

But through it all there is hope, quiet joy and wondrous nature to explore. The lovely photographs included are a little bit of magic to up the realness and bring the reader closer to the story.

This is my kind of book, one to be read again and again, and I can't wait to buy my own copy. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher First Second for giving me early access to the novel.

[I will be posting this review on Goodreads close to the publication day in April 2024, as instructed in the notification email].

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I liked getting to know Kathy and her story of living with two different cultures in Thailand and America. Her worries and struggles were expressed in a very believable way. Unfortunately my attention kept drifting in out of this graphic novel so I wouldn't call it a favourite. Some parts felt too drawn out and I struggled with connecting to the visuals. Thanks to NetGalley for making this available for an honest review.

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I love graphic format memoirs, and this was no exception. The art style was reminiscent of other middle grade diary-themed books, but still unique to the author. The themes of being between two cultures and physical places and not quite knowing your place in the world and your family will definitely resonate with many middle grade and above readers. The author also did a great job of exploring the complicated ways we do and don't know our families, especially our parents. Would be a great summer read for any kid (or adult) that likes graphic format books!

*Reviewed eArc through Netgalley*

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Very sweet and affecting. I don't think I've ever seen a middle grade that dealt with having older parents before, and I really appreciated that. I also liked how not <i>pat</i> the ending was.

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