Weyn, Suzanne. Recruited.
Kadeem is a good football player but a so-so student, so when a recruiter from Teller college makes a hard play for him to go to that school, Kadeem is flattered. He enjoys hanging out with the cheerleaders, is relieved tht his grades “won’t matter” that much at Teller, and likes the dinners and college visits. When he tells another recruiter about these thins, however, h finds out that they are not according to the recruiting rules. He wants to go to Teller, but if he cooperates with the authorities, will he blow his chances?
Strengths:The Surviving Southside Series is similar to Carter High, but more appealing. The storylines are more mature but don’t get too graphic, and the text is a little harder without being too challenging. The short length is great for struggling readers.
Weaknesses: Slightly didactic in tone.
Fontes, Justine. Benito Runs.
Benito’s close knit family is thrown into chaos when his father comes home from Iraq with post traumatic stress syndrome. Instead of playing soccer with Benny and making waffles on Sunday, he barks orders, makes the children clean the house according to military standards,and is on his guard even in church. Benito decides that the best thing to do is t run away from home to Dallas and start life over, but things do not go well when he attempts a bus trip there.
Strengths: Another Surviving Southside title, this will be good for my students who have had relatives come back from serving in the military. The fans of the Bluford High books will like these as well.
Weaknesses: The book never convinces me that it is a good idea for Benny to run away from home-- it reads like an excuse for bad things to happen to him, but I don’t know that the students will read it this way.
Simon, Charnan. Shattered Star.
Cassie wants to be a famous singer, and is working her way through her high school’s ranks to be the best there, but when an American Idol type competition comes to town, she heads over. Once there, she discovers she is one of hundreds of singers trying out, and she’s late for work. A gentleman who claims to be a talent agent gves her his card, and starts to “recruit” her for his agency, which involves increasingly questionable activities which culminate in an attempted rape.
Strengths: Girls who dream of singing professionally will love this one, and the slightly gritty (no swear words, no graphic descriptions of the attempted rape) story of the unscrupulous agent will appeal to girls who like problem novels.
Weaknesses: This is such a short book, when there could be so much more told about the story!
Barnes, Derek. We Could Be Brothers.
Robeson ends up in after school suspension because someone has tried to cheat off of his test; Pacino is there because he instigated a food fight. The boy behind both of their problems? Tariq. Even though the boys come from very different backgrounds, they strike up a friendship. Robeson’s father is a professor and very invested in the African-American community, even living in a nicer section of a troubled neighborhood. He holds Robeson to high standards. Pacino’s mother also holds her son to high standards, but their life is much more difficult because his father is not in the picture an his mother works two jobs and counts on Pacino to help out with his sisters. When things with Tariq explode, the boys both realize how good both of them have it, and Robeson’s father tries to find Tariq some help.
Strengths: I liked the depiction of community, the strong network of help that the boys have, and the trouble that all of the boys have managing anger and interpersonal relationships.
Weaknesses: Slightly didactic in tone, and I feel like I read this before. Will be buying a copy because I think it is something the readers of Myers’ works will like.