cover image Where Do I Go from Here?

Where Do I Go from Here?

Valerie Wilson Wesley. Scholastic, $13.95 (138pp) ISBN 978-0-590-45606-7

A less convincing variation of Maizon at Blue Hill (see review of Between Madison and Palmetto , above), this novel similarly introduces an African American scholarship student at an exclusive, almost all-white boarding school. Nia's painful attempts to find a place for herself are eased by the popular and successful Marcus Garvey Williams, also African American. But when Marcus mysteriously leaves school, rumors fly, and Nia, deeply unsettled, gets into a fight with a classmate that involves fisticuffs and racial slurs. Suspended for two weeks, Nia is tempted not to return. Wesley takes a shortcut through Nia's dilemmas by presenting dreary alternatives to the prep school--she can scrape up money for college with a job at a fast-food joint, like her friend Malika, or, like her friend Debra, can take up with unsavory men; both scenarios, however, are exaggerated here. Other pivotal developments include a number of chance meetings and sightings. The overly pointed messages and the abundance of coincidences risk simplifying some of the very real and critical problems Wesley addresses. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)