Read Once You Know This by Emily Blejwas Online


A girl wishes for a better life for herself, her mom, and her baby brother and musters the courage to make it happen in this moving and emotionally satisfying story for readers of Kate DiCamillo and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.Eleven-year-old Brittany knows there has to be a better world out there. Lately, though, it sure doesn’t feel like it. She and her best friend, Marisol, sticA girl wishes for a better life for herself, her mom, and her baby brother and musters the courage to make it happen in this moving and emotionally satisfying story for readers of Kate DiCamillo and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.Eleven-year-old Brittany knows there has to be a better world out there. Lately, though, it sure doesn’t feel like it. She and her best friend, Marisol, stick together at school, but at home Brittany’s granny is sick, her cat is missing, there’s never any money, and there’s her little brother, Tommy, to worry about. Brittany has a hard time picturing her future as anything but a plain white sky. If her life is going to ever change, she needs a plan. And once she starts believing in herself, Brittany realizes that what has always seemed out of reach might be just around the corner.This debut novel by Emily Blejwas is perfect for readers who love emotionally satisfying books. Thoughtful and understated, it’s the hopeful story of a girl who struggles to make her future bright . . . and the makeshift family that emerges around her....

Title : Once You Know This
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 29283833
Format Type : e-Book
Number of Pages : 360 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Once You Know This Reviews

  • Karin Schott
    2019-03-28 09:18

    Gosh, I really don't like to give bad reviews. I want to find something good about a book and lead with it. I write. I know how difficult the process can be. But I also sell books and I sell books to kids. This book is marketed to kids 9-12. In the first 50 pages the the main character deals with domestic violence, grandparent dementia and possible neglect, poverty, food insecurity, mental illness, suicide, parental illness, inference of teachers homosexuality, an underfunded school. I think there were a few more things...but it was a pretty long list and I could not remember them all. I am going to break this down...When we sell books to children 9 years old we have to consider a couple of things. First, what is their reading level. Second, what is their level of sophistication. Successful books for this age can be issue books. But they deal with one, maybe two issues. I consider Donna Gephart's book Death by Toilet Paper to be an excellent example of this. It deals with a boy who has lost his father to cancer and the ensuing financial dislocation to his home. There is a grandfather who has slight dementia but he adds to the story and does not add burden to the child. It is a funny book with a lot of heart and, most importantly, there are some solid adults in the story. Another great book in this vein is Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate. In this story the main character is coping with potential homelessness with the return of an imaginary friend who just so happens to be a giant talking purple cat. It is sweet. It is clear that the adults in the story are struggling. But the reader can have empathy for their plight.I understand that children in this world grow up in difficult circumstances. The world is not a fair place for children. For at risk children they want to know that there are books that can reflect their life. This book just feels like it is trying to hit them over the head with how miserable their life is. The message of hope it tries impart gets lost in the fear I felt this character must feel living in a home with an abuser. There was no humor, nothing to lighten the tension of this child in crisis. The ending was predictable. I have serious concerns about recommending this book to children as young as nine because it really feels like it is asking too much of them. Some of the issues listed above were couched in language that I am not sure a 9 year old reader would get. The reference to suicide was something I, as an adult, picked up on, but I am not sure a 9 year old kid would. Is it really necessary to the main character's story? The reference to homosexuality of the teacher, brought up in a note passed between students in class, again, is this necessary to the story of the main character. If the character were a little older, if there were less issue boxes trying to be checked off, if there were just a little more softness to the story...Now, some fine print. I don't just come at this book as a snobby bookseller. I grew up in an abusive home. I have known poverty. The one and only thing I can say saved me from this was the library and my library card. Books taught me how to be empathetic. Books painted a world of possibility. Books showed me what normal looked like. Books gave me the tools to cope with what was happening in my home. I did not want to read stories of girls who lived horrible lives, I was already doing that. I wanted to read stories of girls who were spunky, assertive. I wanted to read fantasy and adventure. I wanted to read about horses. I wanted to read friendship stories. I can appreciate that the author, as a victim advocate, has tapped into her experience to write this book. I am sure she has seen things many of us can not comprehend. This book is going to be marketed to 9-12 year olds, not just those who may share the same story as the girl in this book, but those kids who may want to understand at risk kids. I am just not sure this is the book I could recommend.

  • Leah
    2019-04-19 08:21

    once you know... freedom!"This is freedom. this is a weapon greater than any force you can name. Once you know this, and know it with all your being, you will move and act with a determination and power that the federal government cannot ignore, that the school boards cannot overlook, and that the housing authority cannot dismiss." Martin Luther King, Jr., Chicago, 1966 {ARC pages 205-206}Brittany lives in inner city Chicago. Does that inevitably mean endless multi-generational recycling of WIC, welfare, worry, and weariness? Does starting life in urban (or rural) poverty mean leaving school as a dropout? Not necessarily. Once You Know This opens in Chicago, ends in Montgomery, Alabama, the city the Montgomery Bus Boycott and Rosa Parks put on the map for all time. Without a doubt fifth-grader Brittany has inherited basic smarts, but classmates, teachers, friends, and neighbors all play essential parts in helping the eleven year old imagine and enact a future. So does the internet, though mostly by making everything easier than it would have been back in the last century.The story moves along at an easy, interesting real-life pace; the characters are fabulous! Most of us would have loved having a creative teacher into "cultural arts" like Mr. McInnis who'd relocated north from Mississippi for his first ever teaching job. I feel as if I'd met him, met Brittany and her Mom Maureen, had more than a brief conversation with many of the other people in the book. Emily Blejwas captures reader interest and credibility, too, with micro views into Brittany's world that rang true to my own experiences growing up and later working in inner city settings.After finding herself busted flat in Baton Rouge, Janis Joplin tried to tell us "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose," yet freedom's really a way to claim agency, begin making choices that lead to building a future for yourself and your community. Once you know freedom... you'll be determined and powerful. No one will ignore you!"Once you know this" isn't in the religious books category, although Brittany and Mom attend church in Chicago at least once, church ladies in their new Alabama home provide ample good eats. My Judeo-Christian tradition that affirms the Old and New Testament scriptures places a huge emphasis on freedom and obedience. Hebrew bible scholar Walter Brueggemann reminds us we celebrate the ten commandments with their bounded freedom and limits as "working papers" for life together in community. As I've mentioned not a few times on this site and countless times in the adult Sunday School class I facilitate, we discover the neighbor at the heart of Torah, we meet our neighbor as the focus of Jesus of Nazareth's succinct summary of the ten commandments into two: Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbor as thyself. At the end of that summary, the gospel according to Luke includes Jesus telling the lawyer "thou shalt live" if he follows the commandments. In short, God gifted us with the commandments (ordinances, precepts, statutes, law, torah) so life might thrive and harmonize with Martin Buber's definition of love as "responsibility of an I for a thou." Brittany's Plan B worked to perfection, but back in the last century without internet, or any time during this one with internet almost everywhere, her plan wouldn't have happened without more than a little help from her friends and acquaintances. "Once you know this" reveals love in action. As MLK optimistically insisted, the arc of history bends in the direction of justice, and justice is where freedom, determination, power – and responsibility –live.I'd love to see "Once You Know This" as a big screen or home screen movie—and I'd welcome a print sequel.

  • Elizabeth
    2019-03-31 12:20

    While I enjoyed this book and feel it deserves a 4 star rating, I have mixed feelings about it. It shows the harsh realities of life for some children, I.e domestic violence, hunger, poverty, underfunded schools, etc. On one hand, this can help these children feel understood as they can identify with and see themselves in the characters. It can also raise empathy and understanding for children who are not exposed to the same injustices. On the other hand, I’m not entirely sure all 9-11 year olds could handle this. It takes some emotional intelligence that is not always available at this age, especially for kids who fall into the group of not having experienced this suffering. It deserves conversation though, no matter who reads it. There was a section that I loved. The teacher was reading aloud to the class and the main character said that listening to the story just made her want to dream and not worry anymore. This is a great example of why reading to kids is so important. It gives them an escape through the story but also shows them the love and care of an adult. If you work with kids or families that experience tragedy and suffering, this is a good read for you. Just discuss with kids if they read it.

  • Cascade
    2019-04-22 12:30

    This book was beautifully written and held my attention the whole way through. I loved the character development - especially of Brittany and her teacher - and the depictions of the different forms that "hope" can take in difficult circumstances. I would recommend this book for preteens and up, since there are mature themes (reference to suicide in particular), and ideally it being read by young people in a situation where those themes can be discussed. The hope depicted here is subtle - this is not Hollywood - so don't expect to leave it with extreme happiness...but not with extreme sadness either!

  • Barbara
    2019-04-01 09:23

    3.5. Some may find this debut novel incredibly bleak and steer away from it. I was impressed with how deftly the author tackles several different issues and how carefully she paints her portrait of Brittany Kowalski and her experiences living in Chicago. If life at home is dismal due to the abusive relationship that her mother seems mired in, life at school offers some bright moments. The eleven-year-old protagonist's teacher, Mr. McInnis, offers hope to his students, encouraging his sixth graders to dream big and imagine the possibilities that lie before them. But even her teacher faces challenges from a cumbersome administration and budget issues that cause a field trip to the aquarium to be cancelled after months of preparation for the event. Reading and writing are Brittany's solace, and she and her best friend Marisol stick together at school. At home, she avoids Jack, her mother's boyfriend, as much as possible, and hangs out with her great grandmother who has Alzheimer's and is fading away, day by day. Brittany realizes that the only hope she has is if her mother can escape the clutches of the controlling Jack, something she seems unable to do. Taking matters in her own hands, she seizes the opportunity presented when a birthday card arrives for her great grandmother and tracks down Fuzzy, the man who sent the card. It's clear as the story moves forward that it is hard to leave all that is familiar behind, and yet, it is sometimes necessary to do so in order to save oneself. The author carefully includes passages that are understated, leaving to the imagination of readers some of what is occurring in the book. For instance, when Brittany describes taking in a stray cat, Patches, and how Jack lets the cat out while everyone else is asleep, it's clear exactly what kind of man he is. Many youngsters will see their own stories mirrored in and perhaps draw strength from Brittany's determination to improve her lot in life. Then, too, the influence of a teacher who dares to dream and push against the way things are as well as encouraging his own charges to strive for more cannot be discounted.

  • Alisha Marie
    2019-04-19 08:21

    My thoughts are all over the place when it comes to Once You Know This. On the one hand, it was an interesting and quick read. On the other hand, there were a few things that kept me from fully enjoying it.The Good: I don't mind angst in books whether they be Young Adult, Adult, and/or Middle Grade. So, I had absolutely no problem with this book dealing with sadder and tougher issues. Sure, it's middle grade, but guess what? Some kids this age ARE going through tough stuff like poverty, domestic violence, dealing with family members who are ill, etc. We're not doing anyone any favors by putting our heads in the sandbox and pretending otherwise. Once You Know This had these themes in the book. However, I never once felt like it was too much, too dark, nor did I feel like these themes were dealt with in an inappropriate way.More Good: This book was an insanely quick read. I think I read it in under two hours. I also liked getting into Brittany's head, liked reading her thoughts about her home life and school, and really liked Mr. McInnis.The Eh: I wasn't a huge fan of the way Once You Know This was told. It didn't flow very well and it jumped around a lot. It was jarring and abrupt at first, but eventually I got used to it. I also wasn't a fan of how the resolution came about. I feel like that could have been slightly more developed. I also feel like there was a plot point regarding the Mom's health that was never fully explored and just left up in the air.In the end, I thought that Once You Know This was an okay read. While I do think it's appropriate for a middle grade audience, there's not really a lot of lightheartedness in the book and I think everyone should know that. However, the themes are dealt with in an appropriate way, so again, I think it's fine for its intended age bracket.

  • Ms. Yingling
    2019-04-18 12:24

    E ARC from Netgalley.comBrittney's fifth grade teacher, Mr. McGinnis, likes to teach his students cultural things as well as the regular school topics, and he encourages them to keep notebooks of their dreams. It's hard for Brittney, because her family is struggling. Her father was a Polish student who disappeared when her mother became pregnant, and now she, her mother, and her younger brother Tommy live with her mother's grandmother. Jack, her mother's boyfriend, is frequently abusive to her mother, and the grandmother is sinking deeper and deeper into dementia and illness. There is rarely enough food to go around, and trips to the food pantry and WIC become more and more frequent. When a birthday card arrives for the grandmother from Alabama, signed "Fuzzy", Brittney manages to hunt down a great uncle who still lives near her grandmother's house. As Jack's behavior becomes more erratic and money becomes tighter, Brittney tries hard to come up with a "plan B" that will help her family survive.Strengths: I liked that this gave some details about the social services that people who are struggling can access. Students who may need them may learn something useful, and students who don't need them might come to understand a bit more how difficult life can be for others. I liked that the mother had friends that stepped in when they could, and especially liked that Brittney knew to try to get help for her mother because of Jack's behavior. Mr. McGinnis was a sympathetic teacher who didn't pry too much. Weaknesses: I wished that Brittney had been portrayed as older; she seemed too self aware for a fifth grader. What I really think: I'm debating this one. It seems a bit slow as well as sad, so it will probably go on my list of books that I will buy if there is money left over. I wish I could buy everything, but where would I put that many books?

  • Dana
    2019-04-04 08:27

    Eleven year old Brittany lives in a very broken family. Her cruel stepfather is physically and emotionally abusive, her grandmother who lives with them is very ill, she often goes hungry and she lives in inner city Chicago where most families have many similarly stressful circumstances. She is helped by her optimistic 5th grade teacher, her best friend and her neighbors. Brittany decides to come up with a plan to get away from her stepfather and when she finds a birthday card to her grandmother in the mail from her grandmother's brother, she sets out to investigate a way to contact him. This story is very sad and full of very unfortunate circumstances. It is touching and well written and I think that middle grade and above students and adults will benefit from reading this book.

  • Ben Langhinrichs
    2019-03-23 08:34

    I am not always a fan of "issue" books, and at first I worried this might be too gritty and harsh for middle grade kids to deal with. I think the author could have lightened her touch a little at first, but the characters are strong and appealing, and I quickly got caught up in the glimpses of hope that Brittany couldn't always see for herself. Her friend, Marisol, is a gem (both as a friend and as a character), and I grew more and more interested in the various people who Brittany depends on or who depend on her to get through a life that feels insurmountable yet real.In some ways, this reminds me of SORTA LIKE A ROCK STAR by Matthew Quick, though aimed at somewhat younger readers. That is high praise from me, though it is tempered by the worry that only some kids will be able to handle the variety of issues. But perhaps I underestimate today's middle grade students, many of whom deal with a world that is difficult and challenging.I like how the seeds of hope are planted in this book, and that when they grow, it is not unrealistically rosy, but is very satisfying. I also like that the adults in Brittany's life, while flawed in different ways, are clearly trying to do what is best for her, even when they can't always manage.ONCE YOU KNOW THIS is heartfelt and sincere with a strong dose of hopeful even against a grim backdrop. Ultimately, it is very satisfying, and the characters will stay with you. For those children who relate to it, I can see it becoming a favorite.This is a very good book, and I recommend it for 9-14 year-olds with the caveat that it is somewhat intense, and the number of issues may be wonderful for some readers, but too much for others.Four stars out of five.

  • Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
    2019-04-16 11:21

    Blejwas, Emily Once You Know This, 225 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2017. $17. Content: G (1 swear, 0 ‘f’, hints of abuse)Brittany, with her mother and her little half brother Tommy, live under the thumb of Jack, her mother’s boyfriend, who thankfully is not around much. Brittany’s great grandmother, Daisy also lives with them, but Granny has become more and more frail and forgetful as the months go on. Brittany’s teacher, Mr. McInnis is always talking to his students about having a plan, but Brittany doesn’t even have a notebook to write a plan. School is the only place that she feels completely safe, especially on those occasions that Jack appears with his arbitrary rules and anger. There has to be a better way to live. When Granny receives a birthday card, Brittany thinks that find out who “Fuzzy” is may be a good place to start. For a child who needs to know that hope is out there, this is a nice option, however, I have read other books that I loved more. Try Like Magic by Elaine Vickers, The Things About Leftovers by C.C. Payne, or Hold Fast by Blue Balliett.EL - OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

  • Liz
    2019-03-24 10:10

    Every day, Brit’s teacher tells the fifth-grade class to imagine their future. But the kids who live in this part of Chicago are just trying to pretend they won’t grow up in a gang or have babies too young. Brit lives with her mom, baby brother Tommy, and dementia-suffering great-grandma Daisy in the home of her mom’s boyfriend, Jack. Jack isn’t often home, but when he is, he usually hurts Brit’s mom. Brit’s mom claims to have a plan to get them out of this nightmare, but if she leaves Jack, the family will have nowhere to live.From the trips to WIC to keep their monthly benefits, to Brit’s milk rationing to make it last through the weekend, to Brit having to miss school to care for her sick mother, Once You Know This presents a raw and intense look inside life in poverty and domestic violence. Like Brit’s teacher, many readers will have no idea what children like Brit have to think about every day. And those readers who know all too well what Brit’s life is like may find hope in her story.I received an advance reader copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

  • Michelle Kidwell
    2019-04-14 09:20

    Once You Know Thisby Emily BlejwasRandom House Children’sDelacorte Books for Young ReadersChildren’s FictionPub Date 19 Sep 2017I am reviewing Once You Know This through Random House Children’s and their partnership with Netgalley:Brittany is eleven years old and knows their is a better world out there, but sometimes it is hard to see it. Brittany lives in Chicago, her Grandmother is sick, she doesn’t like her stepfather, her Cat is missing.Mr. Mcinnis, her fifth grade teacher wants his students to dream, to believe they can be anything, despite their circumstances. Brittany finds the courage to help her Mother and her baby brother escape the abusive situation after her Grandmother dies of Alzheimers.This is a wonderful book for Middle Grade readers, I believe many girls would be able to relate to Brittany’s character.I give this book five out of five stars.Happy Reading.

  • Ms. B
    2019-04-20 13:28

    Brittany's classmate Kenya's Dad says,"To get to your future, you have to look to your past." And this is exactly what sixth grader Brittany must do if she is to imagine a future beyond her less than desirable home in Chicago. Even with WIC, there isn't enough food for her, her Mom, baby brother and great grandma. When her Mom's boyfriend Jack comes around, he abuses her mother's verbally and physically. And there isn't enough money for the medicine that Granny needs. Her Mom knows things need to change, but doesn't appear to have a plan. Can Brittany come up with a plan for her mother and family? With the help of her teacher, friends and neighbors, anything is possible.This is a story for anyone who feels they are in a hopeless situation. A story that shows that no matter what your age, you can make a plan for your future. A story that shows that kids can make a difference in the lives of their caregivers.

  • Kathy Broadnax
    2019-04-01 07:08

    It always helps to have someone in your corner. It might be your best friend, your mom and your next-door neighbor. The school year has begun, Mr. McInnis asks the class to imagine their futures! That's pretty heavy stuff to think about when so many other things are happening in your life. Brittany is able to help make the changes needed to move on with life. With help from her Grandma, Uncle Fuzzy and Marisol, her best friend. Coping with big changes is always difficult whether you 10 or 70. She created a Plan B, because Plan A wasn't working. Excellent!

  • Jenny Ashby
    2019-03-25 07:17

    This is one of those books that's pretty difficult to sum up and make sound enticing. In truth, I didn't find it all that enticing myself, although I don't have any particular problems with it either. Life for Brittany and the other students in her class and neighborhood is shown as pretty hard, with no one aiming as high as their teacher would like for them. I think that's important to show in literature because there aren't all that many books set in places where it's (almost) impossible to get out. But the grim reality of Brittany's life that Blejwas shows us is then undercut by the nearly magical way out that is provided. As a reader, I'm happy to see Brittany finally have some hope and am hopeful for her future. As a cynical person in the real world, I found it too easy and I wonder about her mom's ability to not choose yet another loser to hook up with after they get away from this loser.

  • Ms. Heres
    2019-04-22 08:13

    Eleven-year-old Brittany is facing a lot of difficulties in her young life. Her mom's husband is abusive and does not provide for the family so Brittany often goes to school without much to eat. Her great-grandmother has dementia and lives with the family. She just keeps putting one foot in front of the other but, when her teacher asks her to imagine the possibilities of her future, she finds it impossible to believe her life with be any different from her mom's.

  • Mahaila
    2019-04-18 10:25

    I think the most interesting part in this book is that they tell about her grandma that died, a lot. I learned that people may act one way at a different place but may not have the best life at home.I would recommend this book to people who like books that have some not-very-happy-parts but books that end up good in the end

  • Ms.Patterson
    2019-03-30 07:10

    I loved this. The quality of the writing and the character's voice is so strong and clear and true. A great 5th grade book.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-13 11:12

    A lot of issues in a little book.

  • Heather Johnson
    2019-04-19 10:24

    Beautifully written. I️ found it hard to put down as I️ fell in love with the characters. Had a bit of a Wonder feel. Great for adults to read and great for older children/ teens. Loved it!!!

  • Nancy Fitch
    2019-04-23 07:17

    Not at all what I expected, but such a powerful message encased in beautiful writing!!

  • Donna
    2019-04-15 07:17

    I loved this story of a courageous girl who knows she needs to make some changes in her life. She secretly takes it upon herself to help her family, especially her mom break away from a dangerous place. I loved how the author showed her school as her place of escape. School was her safe place. This is true for many students. I know my students would love this book! I can't wait to read more from Emily Blejwas!

  • Janelle
    2019-04-03 15:33

    The author visited our middle school and was excellent.