The Trouble with Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff #BookReview


Cover: The Trouble With Belonging by Magdalena Stanhoff

The author sent me an ARC of this book (epub format) in exchange for an honest review).

My rating:  ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)

(by Goodreads)

When those two first met as children, they brought light and hope into each other’s lives. Now they’ll have to find out if the bond between them can survive a catastrophe…and growing up.

New city, again. New language, new school, new people. Another place where he doesn’t belong. Chen Kehuan is a boy adrift: he has no mother, no friends, and no true homeland, and he doesn’t care much for anyone. Until one day that carefree street child appears on his path and turns his life upside down.
Little Niki roams around the city, making things out of nothing and talking to strangers on a whim. She’s stayed out of harm’s way so far, but how long will the good luck hold? And then that boy who doesn’t even speak her language enters her life and takes it upon himself to completely remake it.
Only, sometimes the best intentions can lead to a disaster. What will Kehuan do when Niki’s world is suddenly torn apart and she disappears without a trace?

Genre(s): > Coming of Age Fiction (Kindle Store)
> Contemporary Literary Fiction
> in Romance Literary Fiction
Series: n.a.
Length: 374 pages
Release date: 2021-11-18


Niki in the meantime finished copying the character and was now drawing a cat next to it. It was a very simple drawing, as could be expected from a child of her age, and yet she managed to capture the features of the animal surprisingly well. When she finished, she turned around and poked Kehuan unceremoniously with the pencil.

Chen Xiao half-expected an angry reaction from the boy, or at least the usual scowl, but Kehuan turned round without protest and simply asked, “What word now?”

Niki thought for a moment and said a word in Polish, and Kehuan wrote the character for wolf.

“Why wolf?”, asked Chen Xiao with interest.

“We watched Princess Mononoke two days ago,” Kehuan said with a little smile, “and now she says I’m her wolf.”

My Opinion

This book introduces you to Kehuan, an eight-year-old lonely boy.

With “The Trouble with Belonging”, Magdalena Stanhoff has created an irresistible and unforgettable as well as intriguing story about a boy and a little girl. When Kehuan met Niki, he was not aware that his life was going to change. Most of the characters are complex, all are realistic with all virtues and flaws. The story comprises a variety of craftily elaborated characters with sufficient depth and interesting interactions until the last page. Magdalena Stanhoff introduces each character in a way that the reader automatically wants to read on – to get to know them better. I had a great time reading “The Trouble with Belonging” – it is a captivating read that warms you to Kehuan and Niki’s story. I was immediately drawn into the story, soon feeling very close to Kehuan and Niki. For me, “The Trouble with Belonging” is a surprising work of contemporary fiction (not one of my usual genres) – a story I will read again.

This is for you if you like contemporary fiction and/or coming-of-age fiction with a touch of romance, complex characters, and heart-warming stories.


In brief:

Cover ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Writing ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Plot ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Characters ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐  (five stars)
Mood Hopeful
Pace Steady
POV Third person – past tense
Language :mrgreen:  (decent)
Violence :mrgreen: – 😳  (there is some violence, not too detailed)
Sexual content :mrgreen:  (decent enough)

About the author

I’ve always loved books, and I’ve always wanted to see the world. ​But while I read compulsively in my childhood and teenage years, traveling used to be just an unrealistic dream. Many years had to pass before I could pack my bag and set off on my first journey abroad, but it happened in the end. Since then, I’ve visited many countries and met many amazing people of different nationalities and cultures. We worked, and learned, and played together, and I’ve gained some wonderful friends this way. My life would’ve been so much duller and paler without them. 
​Books and travels have made me who I am. ​And my family, of course, but that goes without saying. 
​As for my books, I write what I like to read: stories about people overcoming various difficulties, sometimes fighting their inner demons, sometimes struggling to fit in or starting anew from the scratch, and finding love and happiness with a little help from their friends and family. Throw in the motif of clashing cultures and world views, and the mess and growth that can come out of it. And since I’m an incurable dreamer, also the obligatory HEA. ​

P.S. As you may have already guessed, Magdalena Stanhoff is a pen name. My real name wouldn’t fit on any book cover, and besides, ​most of you wouldn’t be able to pronounce it anyway.


Connect with the Author:

Please take a look at my statement on reading in My train of thoughts on …reading. Now I am asking you.  🙂

My questions for you bibliophiles:
What about you? What did you think about “The Trouble with Belonging”? Or – if you did not yet read “The Trouble with Belonging” – are you now interested in reading it yourself?

I am looking forward to reading your comments.  🙂



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