Trying to catch up on books I read for the Cybils. This is one that was nominated in middle grade, but kept in teen at my library.
The Cat at the Wall by Deborah Ellis. Groundwood Books, 2014.
Clare, a former very bratty middle-schooler from Bethlehem, PA, wakes up in after her death in the body of a cat in Bethlehem, Israel. As she reflects on the perceived injustices of her former life, particularly her English teacher, Ms. Sealand, who made her write the poem Desiderata many times as punishments. In Israel, she starts living in a house occupied by an orphaned Palestinian boy, Omar, and two Israeli soldiers who are observing the neighborhood. Finally, Clare is able to recognize the selfishness of her former existence and do something to help someone else.
This is a fascinating story that would make for a great school or book club discussion. Especially in Israel/Palestine, the people are very real, with good and bad aspects, reason and unreason on both sides. But while it would have been sickly sweet and way too sad to have Clare be an angel of a child, she was so very unpleasant in life that I don’t think this would be appealing pleasure reading for most kids. There is also a small amount of very disturbing violence. It is definitely thoughtful, well written, and worth reading and talking about.