Thursday, September 25, 2014

Fall Reading 2014 Kinda Like Brothers


Jarrett has plenty of things to deal with in his life. He is the son of a single mother. He's never even met his father. His mom is a foster mother and they are always being awakened in the middle of the night to take in another child that needs a temporary placement. He struggles with school and is attending the summer school session in the hope of passing the standardized test to move from 6th grade up to 7th. If he doesn't pass the test, he will have to repeat 6th grade while all his friends move on without him. His best friend is out of town for three weeks. That should be enough for any kid to handle - especially a kid growing up in a slightly rough area of Newark.

But then his mother gets two new foster kids - a small girl named Treasure and her older brother Kevon. Jarrett is used to his mother taking in babies and toddlers, but Kevon is actually older than Jarrett. He has to share a room with this stranger, giving up the lower half of his bunk bed. Then he has to watch as Kevon does everything better than he does - basketball, stepping (like the show "Stomp"), and being popular with the girls. How can he concentrate on summer school, or the movie trailer that he and his friend Ennis are filming, when he has Kevon in his space all the time? And what really happened that caused the kids to be in foster care? Where is their father? What is Kevon hiding?

If you've never experienced the foster care system with its home visits, paperwork, and sad stories, then this could be an eye-opener for you. Jarrett's mom is one of the foster parents that genuinely wants to help the kids she takes in to her home - and it's tough to let them go back to their families and worry about their safety. Plus, it illustrates the tension of balancing the care of the foster kids with caring for one's own child. The story also gives you a sense of what it is like to be a young African American male reaching his teenage years in a big city. The author's time working with families and children has given her plenty of details that she can work into the story for a very realistic effect. You can hear the author, Coe Booth on NPR or find out more author info on the Scholastic website.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. Calvin Powell has donated a copy of the book to our library.

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