cover image What Lane?

What Lane?

Torrey Maldonado. Penguin/Paulsen, $16.99 (144p) ISBN 978-0-525-51843-3

In this engaging, timely novel, sixth grader Stephen is growing up in Brooklyn; he loves “superheroes, fantasy, sci-fi” and basketball, as well as hanging out with his best friend Dan, the same as he always has. But though his white mother calls him “mixed,” since he’s half Black and half white, Stephen’s beginning to realize the world now sees him as “what they imagine or what the media teaches them to think about Black men.” In situations where Dan, who is white, is considered harmless, Stephen gets in trouble for doing the very same things—and being perceived as trouble can have dire consequences. Maldonado (Tight) paints a vivid, relatable picture of an adventurous boy learning the rewards and dangers of straying out of his lane against the backdrop of an unfair system that could see him killed or arrested for the behaviors his white peers easily engage in. The characters are warmly realistic, by turns impulsive and regretful. In relatively few words, Maldonado elucidates matters related to racial profiling, police violence against Black people, and allyship, all through the eyes of a brave kid trying to figure out who he is and where he belongs. Ages 10–up. [em](Apr.) [/em]