From School Library Journal
Grade 7-9–A housing project, an incarcerated parent, and other elements of inner-city life form the backdrop for this story about eighth-grader Patrice. She has been uprooted from Georgia and the beloved grandmother who raised her, and is struggling to accept her difficult life, handle the bitter Chicago winter, and stay ahead of the group of boys who taunt her when her principal asks her to apply for a scholarship to a prestigious African-American boarding school in Mississippi. Stories of hope, loyalty, and success such as this one are valuable for letting all kids see themselves in books and for fighting the endless stereotypes that surround them. It's unfortunate that the writing isn't more even and polished, rather than utilitarian with a tendency to tell, not show. Despite this, girls will appreciate the strength that underlies Patrice's quiet and unassuming exterior and will cheer for her and for Monty, the cool guy who is inspired by her willingness to be different. Decent characterization, together with a worthwhile topic, makes this a title to consider.–Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL
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Gr. 6-9. In the tradition of Janet McDonald, this moving first novel tells a hopeful story of Patrice, a shy, studious teen who beats the odds in her grim inner-city neighborhood. Patrice, who lives with her aunt, never knew her dad and barely met her mom, who is in jail. When she gets a chance to win a scholarship to a prestigious African American boarding school, pressures in her aunt's home and on the streets threaten to pull her down--until Monty, a gang leader, protects her and loves her. Monty is too saintly to be credible: tender with Patrice and with his little brother, totally supportive, and patient as he waits for her to kiss him. But the harshness of Patrice's daily life is always there--guys who try to fondle her, her promiscuous older sister, Monty's dad in jail, and so many classmates who are pregnant. Handled without obscenity, the lively street talk will draw readers to the gripping story of a contemporary kid who works to make her dreams come true. Link this to McDonald's Twists and Turns
(2003) and to Rita Williams Garcia's Fast Talk on a Slow Track
(1991). Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved