From School Library Journal
Gr 7-10–College-bound Wendy Anderson, 16, and GED-seeking Hakiam Powell, 17, both African Americans, meet at an inner-city Philadelphia community center where Wendy volunteers as a tutor. Living and going to school in an upscale white suburb, she has felt the sting of prejudice and challenges her condescending father's attitude toward his past and his race. Hakiam has drifted from foster care in Cincinnati to his cousin's apartment where he is stuck taking care of her baby. Despite the teens' vastly different backgrounds and aspirations, a tentative romance begins. Wendy's intelligence, personal goals, persistence, and genuine concern for the baby's welfare ultimately motivate Hakiam to find a job, a safe home, and the willpower to study for his GED. Issues of prejudice, socioeconomic disparities, and family conflict are presented in this engaging story. Wendy's biased father and Hakiam's negligent cousin offer provocative profiles in parenting. Although the teens glide a bit too confidently in and out of each other's homes and neighborhoods, readers will savor the saucy verbal sparring between them, the star-crossed contrast in their backgrounds, and the upbeat ending.–Gerry Larson, Durham School of the Arts, NC . (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Wendy and Hakiam’s problems couldn’t be more different. Sixteen-year-old Wendy spars with her father over her desire to attend a historically black college, while 17-year-old Hakiam struggles in his GED class and can’t seem to take advantage of his fresh start. She lives in a mostly white suburb of Philadelphia, and he is living with his cousin and her new baby in the hood. The teens’ worlds collide in an inner-city tutoring center, where they spend more time studying each other than U.S. history. For those who connected with Whittenberg’s spunky heroine, Maine, in Sweet Thang (2006) and Hollywood and Maine (2009), this might be a disappointment. From Hakiam’s welfare mother of a cousin to Wendy’s father’s cartoonish racism/classism, there are plenty of archetypes to go around, and Whittenberg’s trademark witty dialogue feels out of place in such a hard-edged novel. However, Wendy bucks the norm of most “uptight priss” stereotypes by being enlightened and interested in her roots. Plus, the exploration of privileged middle-class blacks in comparison to the poor and disenfranchised population is a striking rarity in YA fiction. Grades 9-12. --Courtney Jones
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.