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All Book Reviews by Genre: African American

Booked
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Nick Hall has everything going for him: he's doing well in school, he's got a solid flirtation going with his crush (or...limerence as it were), and most importantly, he made the soccer travel team. And so, of course, everything starts to go wrong. His parents separate, he starts to get bullied and his best friend ends up on a soccer team 30 miles away.

Booked is absolutely in no way the type of book I would normally pick up, but despite that, I thought it was fantastic. It's a sports fiction novel written in verse neither of which are my thing, but man, I get why Crossover won that Newbery if it was anything like this. In very few words, Alexander manages to develop complex characters, create humor, and develop and subsequently neatly (a little too neatly, perhaps, but hey, it is a book for kids) tie up several plot lines. Oh! And the words! There is a fun little subplot in which Nick's dad wrote a dictionary, and it leads to some really awesome word play. I also learned a few new fun vocabulary words to throw around.

Anyway, my final thought is really just...wow. I'm impressed. I'll definitely be booktalking this one. And even though, like I said, it's not my thing AT ALL, I'll probably read Crossover, Alexander's other book. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Rashad Butler, ROTC student, budding artist, and black teenager walked into a local corner store to get some chips one day. A lady next to him getting beer tripped over something and fell into Rashad. Next thing Rashad knows, he's on the sidewalk getting crap beat out of him (in a loses consciousness/internal bleeding sort of way) by the white policeman installed at the corner store.

Quinn Jones, a white boy, witnesses the entire thing. And the policeman who beat up Rashad for no discernible reason? Well, that's Quinn's bestie's big brother, Paul. And Paul was almost like a big brother to Quinn growing up, as Quinn's dad died in Afghanistan when he was only 7. So Quinn has some thinking and deciding to do - does he betray Paul (and this is how its put to him by Paul) and quell the truth, or does he go to the police?

All American Boys is obviously a social justice book, and it's a timely and important one. I tried to read it, but didn't get very far due to having trouble with the vernacular (it didn't feel authentic), but when I listened to it? Wow. The narrators were fantastic. It was powerful, and made me cry on my way to work several times. I was left with the overall impression that everyone should read this book - if I were a teacher, I'd teach it in my classroom. 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
A Lesson Before Dying
Gaines, Ernest J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Two characters. Grant and Jefferson. Playing the roles of God in Jesus in society, as saviors. Jefferson is on death row for killing a man. Grant is a man who would rather have nothing to do with the sinner, Jefferson. However, Grant is persuaded to help Jefferson. The two men develop a crazy relationship. Grant’s job is to help Jefferson find his humanity again, after Jefferson’s astonishing defense in trial that compared him to a swine who wouldn’t know better than to kill a man, for he is just that dumb. This book teaches so many lessons, but most important how to be a hero for others. Read this book for nothing else than to get to Jefferson’s tragic journal in the end, where you should be prepared with tears and tissues, for your heart will break for these characters.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison H.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora Neale
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Set in the 1930’s and 40’s, Janie is a woman who just wants love. She was raised by her grandmother, but the two did not agree on what Janie’s perfect life should be like. Janie’s grandmother sets Janie up with a man who will take care of her. This is just the beginning, though. As Janie meets more people, she becomes a different person herself. Eventually, she meets Tea Cake, a mere boy to her womanness that swoons her with the love that she’s been searching for all along. Be prepared, though for the teary ending that was bound to happen from the beginning.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Madison H.
One Crazy Summer
Williams-Garcia, Rita
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I honestly don’t have the words to describe how much I loved this book. It has won four national book awards and has left its mark on my heart. I really enjoyed how this book gave a new aspect on the life of other people in our world. This is a story that readers will look back on for years to come. The changes that these three girls go through are remarkable and their love for each other is touching. A phenomenal piece of work that will stick with children, teens, and anyone who appreciates a good story.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gerilyn M.
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora Neale
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

When I first saw the cover and title of this book, I was intrigued. The title of this novel does not reveal much about what the plot was all "about". The main character of the book, Janie, is a woman of mixed race who is trying to find her happiness, which she believes is love. Hurston writes this novel in a way that the readers too, can feel what Janie is feeling, and see what Janie is seeing. Even though this book was written in the 1930's, the topics that pop up are still relevant today, including Feminism. This book may have been predictable at certain times, it was surprising as well. I have never read a novel like this one before. I encourage others to read this book, so they too can experience the journey of Janie's coming of age.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jessica J.
Taylor, Mildred D.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wow. This book was amazing. It was so well-written that I felt like I was there experiencing everything with Cassie. I wonder if I could be as brave as the Logans when faced with bodily harm. The courage of all civil rights activists blows my mind. My mother's family lived in Mississippi in the 1930s and were white. I hope they were sympathetic to the plight of African Americans, and not racists. But in reality, they were likely racists like most other whites during that time. What would I have been like if I was born during that time period? I like to think I'd be sympathetic and would stand up for what's right, but if you're raised with inequality as your reality how do you overcome it? I guess with education and experience and a knowledge of right and wrong, justice and injustice. But still, would I have had the bravery to stand up for what's right if it means physical harm? I hope so. Brilliant book. Perhaps my favorite children's novel of all time.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Bryant, Lynne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I chose this book for my book group to read not knowing much about it. As one person in my book group put it "An unexpected pleasant surprise of a book". Lynne Bryant told a gripping story of a small town in the south that even though things in our country have progressed, they really haven't. It is the story of Roxanne who has her own secrets and how she becomes friends with an elderly black woman and her life is changed forever. Lynne Bryant really knows how to write characters that are so life-like, that you just want to meet someone like Grace, Adelle, and Mattie in person. This is a wonderful book for book groups because there is lots to discuss.

Reviewer's Name: Melissa