report in the News and Observer, over the past two years, some very loud people have brought at least 189 book challenges across North Carolina’s 115 public school districts. As a result of those challenges, some 16 titles have been banned from specific North Carolina schools. Those include All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely in Pitt County Schools and Life is Funny by E.R. Frank in Moore County Schools.
In this Coretta Scott King Honor Award–winning novel, two teens—one black, one white—grapple with the repercussions of a single violent act that leaves their school, their community, and, ultimately, the country bitterly divided by racial tension.
A bag of chips. That’s all sixteen-year-old Rashad is looking for at the corner bodega. What he finds instead is a fist-happy cop, Paul Galluzzo, who mistakes Rashad for a shoplifter, mistakes Rashad’s pleadings that he’s stolen nothing for belligerence, mistakes Rashad’s resistance to leave the bodega as resisting arrest, mistakes Rashad’s every flinch at every punch the cop throws as further resistance and refusal to STAY STILL as ordered. But how can you stay still when someone is pounding your face into the concrete pavement?
There were witnesses: Quinn Collins—a varsity basketball player and Rashad’s classmate who has been raised by Paul since his own father died in Afghanistan—and a video camera. Soon the beating is all over the news and Paul is getting threatened with accusations of prejudice and racial brutality. Quinn refuses to believe that the man who has basically been his savior could possibly be guilty. But then Rashad is absent. And absent again. And again. And the basketball team—half of whom are Rashad’s best friends—start to take sides. As does the school. And the town. Simmering tensions threaten to explode as Rashad and Quinn are forced to face decisions and consequences they had never considered before.
E. R. Frank’s seminal first novel weaves together the stories of eleven teenagers in one city over seven years in this groundbreaking and “impressive debut” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
Why does Gingerbread always have a smile on his face? “Because life is funny,” he tells Keisha. But for her—and almost everyone else in her Brooklyn neighborhood—there doesn’t seem to be much to laugh about.
China, Ebony, and Grace are best friends, but Grace’s mother isn’t crazy about her being friends with two girls who aren’t white, and each cut Ebony makes on her wrist seems to drive them even further apart.
Just across the schoolyard there’s Eric who has to raise his younger brother Mickey, even though no one expects him to amount to anything. Meanwhile, Sonia’s Muslim parents expect everything of her, and it may be more than she is able to give after she suffers a shattering loss.
When Drew brings his father’s Jaguar into Sam’s family’s auto body shop across town they seem to be from opposite sides of the tracks, but Drew’s the one hiding a dark family secret. And he’s not the only one.
Harder to figure what's so terrible about this one, but maybe it's the self-harm (cutting) that the white girl is inflicting on herself (all too common, I'm told) and surely not the fact that she has two Black friends and a mother who disapproves of them.
I'll have something to say in a subsequent post about the A-Number-1 best way to get kids into banned stuff -- ban it.