“Winning is not always about shining the brightest. Sometimes it’s about sharing the light with someone who has been waiting in the shadows all along.”
Save Me A Seat tells the story of an unlikely friendship between two young boys, Ravi and Joe, who don’t have much in common except that they are both bullied by the most popular boy in school, Dillon.
Middle school can be tough, especially if you’ve recently moved to a new country or your friends have moved away. Ravi is finding it difficult to fit in at school as he moves to New Jersey from India. His teachers and classmates find it difficult to understand him because of his accent. On the other hand, Joe has a learning disorder that many people around him are not sensitized towards. This makes Ravi and Joe an easy target for Dillon who teases the boys by calling them names and sends hurtful notes to put them down.
Save Me A seat hits all the right chords as it tells the story from the perspective of both characters, Ravi and Joe. At first, they don’t take a liking to each other. However, when they realize that they both have a common enemy, they decide to help each other.
Although the main theme of the story is anti-bullying and accepting differences, the story explores how adults can support children overcome difficulties that they experience in their lives.
I really liked how Joe’s relationship with his father improves as the story progresses. Joe does not usually share his feelings with his father. His father always tells him ‘to man up and fight back.’ But eventually, Joe finds a way to express himself and convey his feelings to his father. This prompts Joe’s father to write a letter to Joe sharing his thoughts.
“You said that boy Dillon never lets you forget who you are, but it’s not his job to remind you – it’s mine. You are smart and funny and the best son a father could have.”
I feel this book is interesting as it gets you to think about how every story has more than one side to it. Also, it makes the reader think about how our prejudices and biases affect us and how assumptions about others can often be wrong. Like the blurb on the book says, “A new friend could be sitting right next to you!”
Written by: Chandni Shah. Chandni is a picture book collector, an educator and founder of Simplifly, a learning venture for children.