The White Bus

Ken Alder, Author St. Martin's Press $16.95 (246p) ISBN 978-0-312-01111-6
San Francisco's Martin Luther King Jr. High School is a windowless prison attended predominantly by black students. Ira Allen decides to enroll there, along with his black friend Marc. His parents, who expect Ira to attend a prestigious prep school, are infuriated, which seems to be part of Ira's intention. Deriving its title from the nickname the kids at King give Ira's bus (because it transports kids from the overwhelmingly white suburbs), this promising first novel is the story of Ira's first year at King. Predictably, Ira learns a lot about different kinds of ""smarts''; falls in love with a black girl; learns to ``talk black.'' Alder's humor and genuine insights save the book from its stereotypical characters, from the doctrine-spouting Marxist ``bloods'' who regularly shake down their classmates, to the hip English teacher who sleeps with his students. Wavering between an account of a teenage rite de passage and an earnest statement on integration, the narrative displays a lively intensity that helps to compensate for its flaws. (October 19)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1987
Release date: 01/01/1987
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