Kinda Like Brothers
Jarrett's mother takes in foster children in Newark. Usually, they are babies who have been abused and need care for just a few days, but when special needs infant Treasure arrives, she comes accompanied by her brother, Kevon, who is older than Jarrett. Jarrett has to share his room, and he's a bit irritated that he doesn't get to find out what chain of events brought the children to his family. Kevon is very protective of Treasure, but the boys slowly make an uneasy peace. Jarrett's mother has a boyfriend, Terrence, who is very kind to the children, but wishes that Jarrett's mother would stop taking in foster children and go back to college. Jarrett struggles in school and is spending the summer in a remedial program that he must pass before he can be promoted into the 6th grade. He feels that his mother should spend more time with him than with the baby. Eventually, the social worker comes and talks to Kevon, who is very upset. Jarrett finds out that Kevon's mother is dead, his father is missing and has mental problems that interfere with his ability to care for the children. Things come to a crisis, but there is good news, too-- while on a family camping trip, Terrence has asked Jarrett if he can marry Jarrett's mom, and while Jarrett doesn't pass 5th grade, he gets to go to a special all boys school in the fall.
This is really, really good. There are real, serious problems, but they are treated in a highly constructive way. Terrence sometimes argues with Jarrett's mother, which concerns Kevon, but the two never fight. Terrence instructs the boys about the fact that they may some day be pulled over by the police just because they are black, and tells them how they should act, which is something I don't know if I've ever seen in a book. He also addresses the issue that the boys can still be men if they don't like girls, and there is a brief discussion between Jarrett and his friend Ennis, who mentions that he may never like girls, and Jarrett is okay with that. The situations are realistically portrayed, especially between the boys. Very, very good.