As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, my family had the opportunity to review the book, Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream. Set in the modern day "Great Recession", it is the story of a young boy, Abraham, who finds his parents out of work and facing the possibility of a meager Christmas in materialistic regards. While texting to see if others can give him ideas on how to earn money to "save" Christmas, he encounters Abraham Lincoln. The Abraham's journey into the past and encounter historical and well-known figures including: Martin Luther King, Norman Rockwell, Amelia Earhart, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates. In becoming acquainted with these noteworthy characters, Abraham is introduced to and develops an understanding of the American dream. He is also made aware of his own gifts and talents which are then used and applied to his Christmas situation.
Abraham's Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream retails for $14.99 and is recommended for children ages 7-12. My 7 and 8 year old boys would to read this book independently, so we used it as a read aloud in our home. In doing so, it allowed my 6 year old daughter to take part as well. The storyline was easy for them all to follow and the illustrations assisted in holding their attention and reinforcing the plot. It was a relatively short read, and we were able to easily complete the book in one sitting.
Honestly, this book would not land on our top faves list. From a literary standpoint, I feel the introduction of so many characters in such a short story really minimized the lessons they were teaching. It could be misunderstood simply as the boys quest to obtain money.
Secondly, I wish the plot line wasn't in the context of Christmas, and sending the message that Christmas itself is lacking without gifts. Also, the thought that the boy had a smartphone, yet there wasn't money to buy even one simple gift seems a bit off as well. Was the family living beyond their means in the first place? Then, a pet peeve, I have to ask, "Why does the elementary school child have the phone?" My kiddos know that's not happening in our family when they are that young :-)
Finally, I find that so many are quick to equate patriotism and American citizenship with Christianity. However, I don't find them equal at all. I'm thankful for the freedoms I am afforded living in America; however, my identity is in Christ... not the pull yourself up by your boot straps mentality of the American dream. I believe, my dream is for my children to know who they are in Christ, recognize and use their God-given gifts and talents, and be focused on serving others opposed to advancing themselves.
I do want to note that the book didn't totally disregard God and faith, but they definitely seemed to take a backseat to the "American Dream." Therefore, it is not a book that my family will read again. However, I appreciate the discussions it led me to have with my children. As always, others have different opinions and used the book in other ways within their families. I encourage you to click the button below and read what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members are saying.