Jordan is starting a new school. It's a private school, across town, in a wealthy neighborhood, and most of the other students are white. He is assigned a buddy to help him find his way around, but Jordan isn't sure they're going to have much in common. In fact, he'd rather be at art school in the first place, but his mom is sure this school is going to give him all kinds of opportunities, so he is going to try to stick it out. The campus is huge, there's a school sport called squash, and some kid named Andy is a huge jerk - and not just to Jordan. There's also ever-present racism.
This is such a great book - I know it won't spend a moment on my book shelf because students will be so eager to read and re-read it. Jordan's struggles to be the new kid are completely relatable, and as is the injustice. The racism in this book is portrayed so clearly, without making Jordan a raging crusader or a whiny complainer. He is a kid who is trying to make friends and learn at school, and while he is doing those things, he has to deal with teachers who assume he wants to read about gang violence, or teachers who confuse black students, or adults who are quicker to blame a black student for a scuffle than a white one (who started it).
The author shows Jordan adjusting his appearance to meet social expectations as he travels through different neighborhoods on the bus, and how he does and doesn't fit in when he hangs out with neighborhood kids who don't attend his private school. It's a book that might help some readers understand every-day racism more clearly because of Jordan's experiences, and it could provide some valuable discussion questions. It's also an enjoyable story with clever cartoons within a graphic novel.
"Oh, I see. It's okay that this stuff happens to us. It's just not okay for us to complain about it."
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