Friday, May 29, 2020

It Wasn't Easy: A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee

Shayla thinks she knows how to stay out of trouble at school. She tries to camouflage her "big ol' forehead" that Steph makes fun of. She follows the rules, does her work, and keeps a low profile in her classes.

She finds an escape from her fears at lunch at their special table outside with her long-time friends, Isabella, who is Puerto Rican, and Julia, who is Japanese-American. They call themselves "The United Nations," and try to stay out of the cliques that are beginning to separate students into ethnic groups in seventh grade. But Shayla notices that Julia is beginning to choose the Asian kids sometimes at lunch and fears she will be left alone if Isabella changes, too.

But then Shayla allows herself to recruited for the girls' track team. She likes running, but the all-Black team seem to be a clique of their own. Clearing the hurdles is hard to master, and Shayla fears being excluded if she fails the team.

And middle-school romance seems to be breaking up old friends. Shaya finds herself in her first crush for the smooth, green-eyed Jace, while being pestered by Tyler, who keeps trying to talk to her in the halls on the way to class. "Talking" is the first stage of seventh-grade romance, and when at the dance Tyler uses a prank game of "Command" to give her a big, sloppy kiss, Shayla feels humiliated. Her friends are embarrassed for her, but distant. Tyler won't leave her alone, and his girl cousin threatens her for trying to avoid him. Shayla's strategy of going along to get along isn't exactly working. Why is seventh grade so hard?

But when two innocent black people are shot by the police, Shayla's low-profile persona is shattered, and she finds herself wearing the Black Life Matters armband and demonstrating outside of the school, and when Principal Trask demands she remove her armband, Shayla points out that there is no mention of armbands in the school dress code and refuses.

Sometimes being in trouble for the right cause is the right thing to do, in Lisa Moore Ramee's A Good Kind of Trouble (Balzer and Bray, 2019). First-time author Ramee' manages to capture a time when young people are forced to choose the inconvenient truth over personal comfort, and in this coming-of-age story the author has her fainthearted protagonist learn to take risks, clearing the hurdles, and journaling her character's personal progress toward finding the self she wants to be.

Publishers Weekly's starred review puts it this way: "Ramée effectively portrays the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the difficulty of navigating complex social situations while conveying universal middle school questions about friendship, first crushes, and identity. Shay’s journey is an authentic and engaging political and personal awakening.

Labels: , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home