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"If you are wondering how to begin confronting Anti-Black racism in your classroom, start with What Lane?"—School Library Journal: The Classroom Bookshelf"STAY IN YOUR LANE." Stephen doesn't want to...
"If you are wondering how to begin confronting Anti-Black racism in your classroom, start with What Lane?"—School Library Journal: The Classroom Bookshelf"STAY IN YOUR LANE." Stephen doesn't want to...
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  • "If you are wondering how to begin confronting Anti-Black racism in your classroom, start with What Lane?"—School Library Journal: The Classroom Bookshelf
    "STAY IN YOUR LANE." Stephen doesn't want to hear that—he wants to have no lane.
    Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn't think it's his lane, but he goes. Here's the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he's not so sure. As a mixed kid, he feels like he's living in two worlds with different rules—and he's been noticing that strangers treat him differently than his white friends . . .
    So what'll he do? Hold on tight as Stephen swerves in and out of lanes to find out which are his—and who should be with him.
    Torrey Maldonado, author of the highly acclaimed Tight, does a masterful job showing a young boy coming of age in a racially split world, trying to blaze a way to be his best self.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Chapter 1
     
    “This movie is lit.” Dan aims his TV remote to start Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. “Chad hated it. I played it for him here. All he said was ‘Trash. They shoulda kept Spider-Man white.’”
    “What?!” I shake my head. “He’s wack. How you both even cousins?”
    He lowers the remote. “He’s not wack.”
    My parents’ voices in my head say, Blood is thicker than water. Family picks family over friends.
    I ease up and stare at the window.
    Chad is Dan’s cousin, and he just moved to our neighborhood. He’s a sixth grader like us. So far, I’m not feeling him. Anything I say, he contradicts. Any­time I’m around, he puts me down.
    I hate how Dan doesn’t notice and now even defends him.
    Me and Dan live in connecting buildings and we’re over at each other’s so much, we practically live in the same apartment. And we’re both into superheroes, fantasy, sci-fi, and similar stuff. Basi­cally, we’re twins, except we look opposite. He’s white-white. I’m not. People sometimes call me Stephen Curry from basketball because of our names, skin color, and features. We even fade our fros similar.
    “So, Stephen, not only is this new Spider-Man almost our age, it gets better. He’s from Brooklyn too. His full name is Miles Morales, he’s fourteen, and—”
    I’m amped again. “Skip explaining. Show me.”
    “Just so you know, the movie is kinda violent, so don’t get scared.”
    “Dan, you funny. You know all movies are my lane.”
    “Nah! You run if people get hurt or bloody.”
    “Run?! When?
    He sits next to me and poses like me watch­ing TV. “This wasn’t you? When we saw Stranger Things?” His leg gets jumpy and he changes his voice into mine: “I’ma get ice cream. You want?”
    “What?! I didn’t do that.”
    “Yeah. You. Did.”
    I stare from him to my wrist, at the only bracelet I rock. It’s black with bright white glow-in-the-dark letters that say WHAT LANE?
    Last year, I got it on a school trip to a Barclays Center basketball game. There, this player Marshall Carter, nicknamed MC, was on that next next level. He kept scoring—any way he wanted. Everyone else had a lane. They had sick passes or swished in half-court shots. Marshall was wavy in every lane. He bagged three-pointers, passed like whoa, and did crossovers that made guys fall on their butts. And almost every time he scored, he’d yell, “What lane?!” and WHAT LANE? flashed on the JumboTron. He had no lane.
    That day, I bought MC’s bracelet after the game. I wanted his saying on my arm. What lane?!
    I want to be that: in every lane, have no lane.
    Now I thumb my bracelet. “Dan, this movie is my lane too. Press Play.”
    Dan aims his remote at the screen, and when it starts, we point. “Times Square!”
    Then we shout again: “Empire State Building!”
    New York City spots at night keep flashing. This. Is. So. Tight! I love when my city gets to shine.
    At one point, he elbows me. “How wild is it that Miles can pass for you or your brother, if you had one?”
    “Facts.” Miles Morales could be me. He’s half African American too, and even though his other side is Puerto Rican and mine is white, most people say we Black.
    I...

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    February 15, 2020
    In an NYC landscape deeply shaped by race, sixth grader Stephen struggles to speak his piece. "Since I was little, it's been hard to speak up," says Stephen. He's half African American and half white, but even still, most people just say he's black. Alongside his "white-white" best friend, Dan, he's deeply into fantasy, science fiction, and superheroes like the new Spider-Man, Miles Morales. When Dan's cousin Chad arrives on the scene, however, things take a turn. Chad has a rep for trespassing, a penchant for contradicting Stephen, and, most wack of all, believes "they shoulda kept Spider-Man white." For Stephen to separate himself means he must be willing to step out against that part of himself that believes going along works, if only for the current moment. After all, isn't that how you are supposed to be--in every lane, able to do whatever, with anyone and everyone? Wes, a black friend, thinks Stephen should just embrace the lane with his black and brown classmates instead of "grimy heads" like Chad. How will Stephen deal? Maldonado pursues a story about biracial boyhood, healthy friendships, and self-discovery while gesturing toward the influence of social movements like Black Lives Matter in reshaping what accountable friendship looks like. Voiced in the creative language of NYC youth, the novel models what it means to embrace the power of self-awareness and relationships built on mutual respect. Bridges everyday racism and accountable allyship with sincerity. (Fiction. 10-14)

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 16, 2020
    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.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from April 1, 2020

    Gr 5-8-Taking his title from a fictional baller's mantra, Maldonado depicts his young hero's awakening to the ugly realities of contemporary American racism. Caught between his best friend Dan, and Dan's racist cousin Chad; straddling the line between his overprotective, naive white mother and his realist, all-too-aware Black father; and doing his best to integrate his middle school friend group, biracial Stephen is finding it tricky to "stay wide in all lanes." With his mother unwilling to admit the real perils her Black son faces outside their home, Stephen nonetheless discovers the Black Lives Matter movement at his school, and begins processing the insidious racism that he faces daily. Whether he's handling daily interactions with local shopkeepers, or with the passersby on the street when he is fake fighting his white best friend, or dealing with the escalating aggression of Chad's racist behavior, Stephen manages to avoid being pushed into one narrow, race-defined path. Popular with kids of all backgrounds, Stephen works to make his friends more accepting of each other, while making himself less susceptible to the sometimes irresponsible whims of his classmates. VERDICT Maldonado uses a biracial adolescent boy's perspective to draw his readers into an engaging story of identity and tough choices that will appeal to middle schoolers everywhere. An ideal choice for school book clubs and advisory.-Jane Barrer, United Nations International School, New York City

    Copyright 2020 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    May 1, 2020
    Grades 5-8 Mixed-race sixth-grader Stephen loves comic books, especially the new Spider-Man featuring Miles Morales, and he loves spending time in New York City with his friends Dan and Wes. But when Dan's contentious cousin Chad moves nearby and joins their group, the newcomer's dislike for Stephen causes him to notice that some people treat him differently than they treat Dan, who is white. As Stephen discusses his feelings with his African American father, he learns about the Black Lives Matter movement and comes to realize that race will always affect people's perceptions of him. Short chapters provide a fast pace for middle-grade readers. As Stephen, with the support of his parents, faces discrimination in an unfair world, Maldonado (Tight, 2018) explores race and coming of age through a story of boyhood friendships. The relationships between Stephen and his buddies hit home in their realism, presenting strong, positive bonds between the boys. A worthy addition to middle-grade collections.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2020, American Library Association.)

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