Class Act

Jerry Craft. HarperAlley/Quill Tree, $12.99 paper (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-288551-7
In this companion to Newbery winner New Kid, eighth grader Drew Ellis embarks on a turbulent second year at the prestigious Riverdale Academy Day School in the Bronx alongside best friends Jordan Banks and Liam Landers. Drew and Jordan, who are both African American, face different struggles: Jordan, an aspiring cartoonist from Washington Heights, Manhattan, wishes he could attend art school instead, while Drew, an excellent basketball player from the Bronx, worries he’ll fulfill a stereotype if he joins the school team. Yet they both suffer microaggressions at their predominantly white, upper-class private school; in one scene, a non-Black student runs her hands through Drew’s hair, despite his vocal discomfort, and in another, white students give Black classmates—excluding Jordan—“reparations” after watching an exploitative film called The Mean Streets of South Uptown. Interwoven comics by Jordan further depict his experiences as a light-skinned Black boy, while parodic chapter title spreads offer levity. Deftly weaving discussions of race, socioeconomics, colorism, and solidarity into an accessible narrative, Craft offers a charming cast journeying through the complicated landscapes of puberty, self-definition, and changing friendships, all while grappling with the tensions of attending an institution that structurally and culturally neglects students of color. Final art not seen by PW. Ages 8–12. Agent: Judy Hansen, Hansen Literary Agency. (Oct.)
Reviewed on : 09/30/2020
Release date: 10/01/2020
Genre: Children's
Paperback - 256 pages
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