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Reviewed by:
  • Courage by Barbara Binns
  • Wesley Jacques
Binns, Barbara Courage. Harper/HarperCollins, 2018 [368p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256165-7 $16.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-256167-1 $7.99
Reviewed from galleys R Gr. 4–7

After a day at the local community college pool, twelve-year-old T’Shawn “T” Rodgers knows he wants to dive. The problem is convincing his mother, which is hard because money is tight: the family just lost T’s father to cancer and T’s older brother Lamont to prison, and they only recently relocated from a homeless shelter. A mysterious scholarship emerges, and T is at least able to use the hard work of developing as a competitive diver to distract from his concerns about his newly paroled brother, his confused feelings about two girls from school, and the constant hostility between his South Side Chicago community and the police. There are some awkward moments in the writing, but it’s perceptive about T’s grappling with issues of racial identity: Lamont used to be T’s hero but, when he was away, T decided that he wanted to be the kind of Black boy that listened to country music, did well in school, and joined the diving team, instead of the kind that joined a gang and put people in danger. Lamont’s redemption and T’s learning to accept him again as a brother is further complicated by an unforgiving community and legal system that make it hard for people that look like them to get a first chance, let alone a second. In the end, Binns’ first middle grade-novel uses its Chicago backdrop to thoughtfully showcase common but underexplored issues of family and community, with an ending—the brothers reaffirming their bond—that is hopeful and well deserved. [End Page 419]



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Launched on MUSE
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