From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–A wonderful cross section of excerpts from published autobiographies. The 16 stories tell of challenges met and opportunities recognized and realized. Colin Powell's recollection of his introduction to the military life at City College in New York City stands alongside Russell Simmons's retelling of the turning point in his life when, at 16 years of age, he shot at and missed a fellow drug dealer. Peter Westbrook, the world-champion fencer, talks about his Japanese-immigrant mother bribing him to take fencing lessons to keep him off the Newark streets. Whoopi Goldberg discusses being on welfare and using that experience as a stepping-stone to bigger and better things. Each selection deals with that point in the life of the subject when the opportunity to make a life change offered itself. This little gem of a book should be a first purchase for public and school libraries.–Carol Jones Collins, Columbia High School, Maplewood, NJ
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Gr. 8-11. Summers offers profiles written by 16 prominent African Americans who made choices that changed the paths of their lives for the better. The subjects include athletes (Derek Jeter, Peter Westbrook, and Chamique Holdsclaw), entertainers (Whoopie Goldberg, Queen Latifa, and Russell Simmons), writers (Susan Fales-Hill, Antwone Fisher, E. Lynn Harris, Lynne Duke, Michael Cottman, and bell hooks), community activists (Sister Souljah and Derek Scott King), a scientist (Neil de Grasse Tyson), and a statesman (Colin Powell). The writing styles and the themes vary greatly, reflecting each author's life experiences and personality. Several individuals dealt with coaches or mentors who pushed them almost beyond the limits of physical and mental endurance; others came to terms with difficult issues of sexuality; still others recount how discovering their life's passion, whether astrophysics or the military, focused their lives and gave them direction. These thoughtful essays will make excellent discussion starters, whether the goal is career guidance, inspiration, or knowledge of contemporary African Americans. Kay WeismanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved