Author: Maldonado, Torrey
After his quick-tempered father gets in a fight and is sent back to jail, sixth-grader Bryan, known for being quiet and thoughtful, snaps and follows new friend Mike into trouble.
Download a Teacher's Guide
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 3.90
Points: 5.0 Quiz: 196890
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 3.40
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 75103
School Library Journal (+) (00/08/18)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 08/01/2018 Bryan dislikes drama, but it’s hard to avoid when his dad is in and out of prison and his mom is trying to make ends meet. He knows keeping his head down and working hard in school is his ticket to success, so he’s surprised when his mom encourages a friendship with Mike, a classmate he barely knows. Soon the two are bonding over video games, superheroes, and comics. However, Mike starts pressuring Bryan to participate in riskier activities, such as cutting school and subway-train surfing. At first, Bryan goes along because his dad warns him not to be soft, but when he gets busted and prohibited from seeing Mike for a while, Bryan realizes maybe he doesn’t need the stress of trying to be cool and accepted by Mike. Maldonado’s novel quietly interrogates toxic masculinity in a story that will resonate with middle-grade readers who, just like Bryan, are questioning who they are, who they want to be friends with, and how those choices will impact their lives. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2018 Gr 4–7—The complex emotional lives of young boys of color are portrayed through a nascent friendship. Bryan is constantly teased for being "soft," thanks to his preference for comics, drawing, and spending quiet moments with his mom. Through his mother's work at a Brooklyn community center, he meets Mike, an older, "harder" schoolmate whom he's never socialized with before and is apprehensive about befriending. Slowly, Bryan finds they have much in common and begins spending more time with Mike. When Bryan's recently paroled father is re-incarcerated, Mike offers him an emotional outlet in the form of ditching school, the first of several exploits the pair undertake. Pushing of boundaries as an emotional response to trauma, vulnerability, and societal pressures is an overarching theme of the novel, pressing readers to consider the impetus of what is deemed "bad behavior." Regrettably, Mike, who faces many of the same emotional struggles and home life difficulties as Bryan, is not allotted the same degree of sympathy. Maldonado, however, excels at depicting realistic and authentic interactions between middle school boys. VERDICT An excellent addition to libraries with fans of David Barclay Moore's The Stars Beneath Our Feet, Jason Reynolds's Ghost, and character-driven realistic fiction.—Jessica Agudelo, New York Public Library - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.