When I look back at August my first thought is what the hell happened? The month went by way too fast. Could the fact that I saw the Grateful Dead, Natalie Merchant (4xs), Trey Anastasio, Sirsy, and Aerosmith all in the same month have anything to do with that? Probably. It was a big month for traveling (Vermont, Connecticut, NYC) and for being alone while Kisa was in Charlotte, Roanoke, Erie, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Colorado. And. And, And! I got some running done! The treadmill was broken for twenty days but in the last eleven days I eked out 12.2 miles. Meh. It’s something. Speaking of something, here are the books:
- African Queen by C.S. Forester
- Antonia Saw the Oryx First by Maria Thomas
- Shine On, Bright and Dangerous Object by Laurie Colwin
- Strong Motion by Jonathan Frazen
- Beauty by Robin McKinley
- Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
- American Chica by Marie Arana
- Florence Nightingale by Mark Bostridge
- Secret Life of Lobsters by Trevor Corson
- Die Trying by Lee Child
- Foundation’s Edge by Isaac Asimov
Early Review cleanup:
- Filling in the Pieces by Isaak Sturm
- Open Water by Mikael Rosen
Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade. New York: Dial Books, 2002.
Reason read: August is the time of year when parents start thinking about sending their kids back to school. Bronx Masquerade takes place in high school.
Eighteen teenagers from all walks of life use poetry to tell it like it is. In the form of a poetry slam each student in Mr. Ward’s class gets an opportunity to share a piece of him or herself. Not all are eager for the spotlight, but the more students stand up and share, the more the others get to thinking this poetry thing isn’t such a bad idea.
- Lupa Algann – her big sister had a baby so she wants one.
- Janelle Battle – has a crush on Devon; has a weight problem she is self- conscious about.
- Judianne Alexander – she sells herself short; has a crush on Tyrone.
- Leslie Lucas – lost her mom at a young age.
- Gloria Martinez – she had a baby while still a sophomore in high school; baby daddy wants nothing to do with the child.
- Diondra Jordan – a shy artist.
- Sheila Gamberoni – wants to be more “ethnic”so she asks to change her name in class. Even though she is Italian heritage she has white skin.
- Raul Ramirez – An artist with ambition.
- Amy Moscowitz – an atheist who comes from a Jewish family
- Tyrone Bittings – closest character to a protagonist the story has. He responds to every poem and his perceptions of his classmates. He is convinced he is going to die young if the color of his skin has anything to say about it.
- Devon Hope – a basketball player.
- Wesley “Bad Boy” Boone – tough guy who loves music.
- Raynard Patterson – cousin to Sterling.
- Darien Lopez – Puerto Rican boy trying to break out of the stereotypical mold.
- Chankara Troupe – comes from an abusive home.
- Others: Tanisha, Steve, Sterling, and Porscha
All of these students pull courage from their classmates and try it on for themselves. One by one they are pulled to the front of the classroom to stand up strong. By doing so they reveal glimpses of lives their classmates knew nothing about.
Mr. Ward’s Open Mike class gains momentum when a reporter gets wind of the class and makes a visit.
Best surprise: Grimes features real life poet Pedro Pietri.
Quotes I had to quote, “Knees knocking like a skeleton on Halloween, embarrassment bleaching my black cheeks red, eyes stupid to the page in front of me” (p 4). If that doesn’t describe nerves, I don’t know what!
Here’s another – “I try on my life like a dress and it doesn’t fit” (p 110). Last one, “The truth of his words pinned me to the wall” (p 135).
Author fact: Grimes also wrote Jazmin’s Notebook which won a Coretta Scott King Honor award.
Book trivia: the copy I read was the ten year re-release with a new introduction by the author.
Nancy said: Pearl indicated Bronx Masquerade was good for boys and girls.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Best for Teens” (p 24).