"This not an anti-cop book" - Angie Thomas
Influences and references in
Trayvon Martin & Rachel Jeantel
Angie Thomas says of Jeantel, "I remember being so angry at how people characterized her just because they didn't think she presented herself the way they would have presented themselves."
With Starr, "I wanted to say, Here's a black girl who is saying things the way you think that she should say them, but are you listening?"
Read: Dec. 3, 2017
Thumbs: Middling to downward
But why, Sue? It's a challenge to work events so recent into a piece of writing, and I'm afraid Reynolds and Kiely don't fully pull it off for me. The Quinn character doesn't work, ultimately; his connection to the central events of the narrative are weak, and while his internal struggle is occasionally compelling, it feels strained toward the end. Quinn's reaching for Rashad in the final scene is... strange. It feels like Rashad has become something of a hollow symbol for Quinn, something he can touch to become fully part of something he wants to understand.
Read: Dec. 4, 2017
Thumbs: Middle Up
But why, Sue? I enjoyed this book and found myself making lots of connections to other texts and genres, including Sister Soulja's The Coldest Winter Ever (a book I don't love, but whose popularity is significant) and blaxploitation cinema of the '70s. The Hate U Give draws from such sources, but creates something contemporary, rich, and intense.
My main issue is the book's length, which doesn't seem necessary enough to make up for the readers it might put off - readers who, possibly, would love this book most.
Book: Ghost by Jason Reynolds (2016)
But why, Sue? This is a satisfying story about a boy's process toward figuring out who he is and who he wants to be through mentoring, friendship, and track. There are a lot of opportunities for teaching here, and compelling minor questions around measurement and categorization that add depth to the narrative. I want to read its sequel/partner Patina now.
A note on Reynolds' style: Here and in the Reynolds co-authored All American Boys, there's what I assume is a purposeful choice to almost never use race labels as a way to identify characters. Tell me if I'm wrong, because I haven't gone back and done a careful study of it. But I like it.
Thanks for visiting Poetry/Pedagogy. This site blog is where I'll post notes and thoughts about the critical pedagogies and literacies work happening in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and around the world. - Sue
All American Boys
Book A Day
The Hate U Give
The Weary Blues