April 14, 2020
Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn't think it's his lane, but he goes. Here's the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he's not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he's living in two worlds with different rules--and he's been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . .
So what'll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his--and who should be with him.
Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.
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Along with Ramee's A Good Kind of Trouble, this is an important book to highlight the treatment of Black people in the US. Seen through Stephen's eyes, we get details provided in a way that Black children dealing with this every day will see their experiences reflected, and others who haven't seen this will be able to understand. Fitting in with friends is a huge part of adolescent development, and when those friends change, it can be devastating. The length of the book is perfect, the cover fantastic, and the writing solid and easy to understand.
Stephen's problems with Dan are the type that middle school students will have seen, but maybe not fully processed, depending on what their view of the matter is. There are a lot of books about bullying, but actual bullying in middle school usually bears no resemblance to the portayals of fights on the playground or "swirlies" in the bathroom; it almost always more subtle, going well underneath the radar of teachers and administrators. It's good to see literature that reflects that reality.
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