In Harbor Me, we meet Haley, a grade 6 girl with a secret she has only told her best friend and a handful of adults. At school, she is grouped with 5 other students to meet at the end of the day in an empty classroom so they can talk and share. Everyone is reluctant at first but Haley breaks the ice with her hand-held recorder as her new friends realize they want their stories to be heard and remembered. As the middle schoolers begin to trust one another, their words pour out stories about immigration, racial profiling, bullying, incarceration, and death, and these wounds are filled in return with poetry, music, love, trust, forgiveness, and friendship.
This is a beauty of a book. The topics are big, and refreshingly, not dumbed down for middle school students. Instead, they are given the respect they deserve and the author, Jacqueline Woodson, clearly believes that young people can handle these topics; age does not prevent tough situations in life from happening. This novel is such a great example of literature being both a window and a mirror for our students and having this in your classroom library will be a game changer for some readers.