cover image All the Right Stuff

All the Right Stuff

Walter Dean Myers. HarperCollins/Amistad, $17.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-06-196087-1

Printz-winner Myers (Monster) expertly turns a series of Socratic dialogues on the nature of the social contract into an engrossing and fast-paced novel that never feels preachy. Shortly after his father is killed by a stray bullet, Harlem teenager Paul DuPree takes a summer job in a soup kitchen. His elderly supervisor, Elijah, engages Paul in discussions about the social contract, introducing him to the basic concepts, as well as to the teachings of Locke, Hobbes, Hume, and Rousseau. Paul also hears from neighborhood gangster Sly, whose college studies have persuaded him that the social contract is just a tool to keep the poor in check. As Paul weighs the opposing viewpoints, he applies what he learns to his late father’s life, as well as the lives lived by the senior citizens Elijah helps, Paul’s other family members, and Keisha, a basketball player he’s mentoring by helping her with her outside game. Myers fits a large cast and many motivations into a relatively small work, and they in turn transform this extended examination of political philosophy into a must-read novel. Ages 14–up. (May)