WHAT MAKES US, by Rafi Mittlefehldt, Candlewick Press


A viral video reveals a teen’s dark family history, leaving him to reckon with his heritage, legacy, and identity in this fiery, conversation-starting novel.

Eran Sharon knows nothing of his father except that he left when Eran was a baby. Now a senior in high school and living with his protective but tight-lipped mother, Eran is a passionate young man deeply interested in social justice and equality. When he learns that the Houston police have launched a program to increase traffic stops, Eran organizes a peaceful protest.

But a heated moment at the protest goes viral, and a reporter connects the Sharon family to a tragedy fifteen years earlier — and asks if Eran is anything like his father, a supposed terrorist. Soon enough, Eran is wondering the same thing, especially when the people he’s gone to school and temple with for years start to look at him differently.

Timely, powerful, and full of nuance, Rafi Mittlefehldt’s sophomore novel confronts the prejudices, fears, and strengths of family and community, striking right to the heart of what makes us who we are.

Out October 2019

352 Pages Approx.


I received this book in exchange for my honest review.

Should a boy be judged because of the sins of his father?

This is a great story in the young adult genre. In this book, you have a son of a woman who holds the secret of his father’s identity. When he learns about his father from another avenue, his life is turned upside down. Discovering his father is worse than a criminal destroys everything he thought about family. This revelation is made worse when those around him treat him differently because the information about his father is made public.

Dealing with peer pressure alone is hard enough for a teen, but I can’t even imagine how difficult it would be to learn what the MC discovers about his father. Put that with how society treats him because of his father’s actions… it must be pure hell.

A confrontation of prejudices, fears and the strength of family and community is addressed in this powerful and emotional book. I recommend it to all!

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