What matters most to you? This is a question we are all asking, a question that can be hard to answer when there aren’t black or white outcomes. What matters most is what ten-year-old adoptee Jazzy Armstrong needs to figure out when faced with some tough decisions in her own life.
Is what matters most being invited to the coolest birthday party in town? Is it competing in an amazing Star Wars contest? Or is it helping a friend in need?
Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most is the second book in the groundbreaking Jazzy’s Quest series, written by authors Juliet C. bond, LCSW and Carrie Goldman. This new book explores friendship issues that are common in tween social circles, with the rich additional layer of being processed through the lens of an adoptee. Kids will relate to Jazzy’s search for belonging both at school and at home. Written with emotional intelligence and a page-turning story line, adults will be hanging on to every word as well.
In the heartwarming first book, Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing, readers meet ten-year-old Jazzy Armstrong, a transracial adoptee being raised by Caucasian parents in an open adoption. Jazzy feels different from the rest of her family, and at times, the Star Wars loving girl feels different from some of her peers.
At the end of the first book, Jazzy makes a new friend named Michael. Unlike Jazzy, who was adopted as a baby, Michael was recently adopted as an older child after being placed in many different foster homes while he was growing up. The second book picks up the story and hits the ground running, allowing readers to immerse themselves in Jazzy’s world.
In the following excerpt from the sequel Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most, Jazzy arrives late for a play date with Michael. His reaction to her lateness — born of a deeply-held sense of abandonment — teaches Jazzy just how fragile Michael’s trust is. Jazzy uses her emotional intelligence to help him process his feelings of anxiety and sadness.
Excerpt from Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most:
When Dad and Jazzy finally pulled up in front of the lab, Michael was pacing back and forth outside. Jazzy opened the car door and bounded towards Michael.
“Where were you?” he asked, jamming his hands deep in his pockets. “It’s almost eleven. You said you would be here half an hour ago.” He stared at the ground. Piles of dirty snow and chunks of ice littered the sidewalk. Behind him stood the massive white building where Michael’s mother worked. It was so big that it reminded Jazzy of the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
“I was talking to my little brother, Carlos. I lost track of time. He and I only catch up once a month. I’m sorry.”
Michael’s baseball cap was pulled low over his brow. He held still for a moment. “I thought you weren’t coming,” he said quietly.
“I should have had my dad text your mom to say we were running behind.”
Michael’s jaw softened. He let out a heavy puff of air. “I guess it was just hard to believe you were going to show up. Usually, when people are late, it means they forgot about me. At least, that’s how it’s been.”
Jazzy cocked her head, listening. She kicked a nugget of ice along the sidewalk toward Michael. He trapped it with his foot, and then kicked it back toward her.
“I really am sorry I was late,” Jazzy said. “I didn’t mean for you to worry.”
Michael took a deep breath. “I used to wait for my sister and my mom to show up for visits. After about fifteen minutes, I knew they weren’t coming.”
Jazzy tried to imagine what that felt like. “Do you ever see them anymore?” she asked.
“When I was little, my mom would come every now and then. But the visits grew further and further apart. Then she stopped showing up. By the time I was moved to my last foster home, we didn’t even know where she was or how to reach her. I haven’t seen her since I was six.”
“What about your sister?” Jazzy said.
Michael hesitated. “She, umm, she has problems with anger and stuff. She lives in a special home for teens that get into trouble. I don’t have any contact with her, either.” He swallowed and sent the marble of ice skittering off the sidewalk and into the grass. Jazzy lunged after it and tapped it back to him.
Michael watched the little stone tumbling toward him and smiled. “But we did used to have fun together sometimes. My sister could make a game out of anything!”
“I bet you miss her,” Jazzy said, twisting a spongy black curl around her finger.
“Yeah, I do. I really do.”
“You know, Michael,” Jazzy told him, “I kind of understand. I mean, it’s not the same for me, because I do get to see my birth mom and Carlos during visits. But sometimes I feel sort of empty, like I’m homesick for something. I don’t know how to explain it. Sometimes I don’t feel like I fit in exactly–even with my own family.”
Michael stared at Jazzy. “Yes! I know that feeling! I get that way, too.”
“But then,” Jazzy continued, “I go talk to my parents or my sisters, and it helps. We hang out and play a game or watch a movie, and after a while, I feel okay again. Can you talk to your parents?” She pushed another bouncy lock off her forehead.
Michael pointed toward the entrance of the building. Jazzy fell into step beside him, speeding up to keep up with his long legs.
“Yeah. I’m learning to talk about this stuff with my mom and dad,” he said. “And you’re right. It does feel better after a while, like my stomach isn’t so tight.” His face brightened. “Actually, I already feel better than I did when I was waiting for you.”
“Good,” Jazzy said. “So, will you show me the 3D printer in your mom’s lab?”
“Yeah. Let’s go inside. I’m freezing! It’s way colder here than in North Carolina.”
Jazzy followed him up the stone steps and leaned forward to pull open the heavy door.
Would you like to know more about Jazzy, Michael and their families? Be sure to get your copies of Jazzy’s Quest: Adopted and Amazing and the sequel, Jazzy’s Quest: What Matters Most today! Once you have read them, please be sure to upload a review on Amazon so that more people will learn about Jazzy!
Juliet C. Bond, Carrie’s amazing co-author, is the brilliant social worker, children’s writing instructor, and advocate who wrote Sam’s Sister, a poignant story about the five-year-old sister of a baby who is placed for adoption. Be sure to check out Juliet’s work.
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