Fast Talk on a Slow Track

Fast Talk on a Slow Track

by Rita Williams-Garcia
     
 

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Denzel Watson is a fast talker with a system, and it's made him valedictorian. But when he goes to a summer program at Princeton, he takes a fall. How can he tell his proud family that he won't be able to cut it in the Ivy League? Instead, he spends the rest of the summer selling candy, up against "Top Man" Mello, a drop-out with a police record. For the first time

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Overview

Denzel Watson is a fast talker with a system, and it's made him valedictorian. But when he goes to a summer program at Princeton, he takes a fall. How can he tell his proud family that he won't be able to cut it in the Ivy League? Instead, he spends the rest of the summer selling candy, up against "Top Man" Mello, a drop-out with a police record. For the first time, Denzel is forced to take a hard look at himself — and how much further he could fall."Williams-Garcia confronts some crucial issues that are generally ignored in YA fiction: issues of class and race, friendship and competition, identity and failure." — Booklist"Teens everywhere will be able to identify and commiserate with Denzel." School Library Journal, starred review

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Denzel Watson has sailed through school, receiving straight As, lavish praise and the honor of being high school valedictorian. Preparing to enter Princeton in the fall, Denzel attends the university's summer session for minority students--and experiences failure for the first time. Terrified and confused, he immerses himself in a door-to-door salesman's job. He is determined to outdo fellow salesman Carmello, a robust, streetwise and illiterate boy. Attempting to dominate every aspect of Carmello's life, Denzel finally realizes that he is competing with a part of himself, a part that he wishes did not exist. In a clear, strong voice, Denzel chronicles his quest to accept his vincibility. As she did in Blue Tights , Williams-Garcia again sends an important message about self-discovery to young adults through a powerfully written, introspective novel. Readers familiar with Denzel's struggle--and those who relish a compelling story--will appreciate the complex, thoughtful narration. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)
School Library Journal
Gr 9-12-- An unusual, affecting book, told from the point of view of a black teenager. Success has always come easily to Denzel Watson and, for the first time in his life, he must come to terms with the spector of failure. He graduates from high school with a 98% grade point average, as president and valedictorian of his class, with plans to enter Princeton in the fall. While at Princeton as part of a six-week minority candidate summer program, Denzel continues to wing it through his classes as he had done throughout his school career. It does not work. The son of a middle-class family who participated in and remember the civil rights movements of the 1960s and who have strong feelings of racial identity and pride, Denzel is not supposed to fail. He returns home and spends the rest of the summer selling candy door to door with dropouts and losers who have no other options in life. He decides he will attend the local college in the fall rather than Princeton, but lacks the courage to tell his parents. Denzel's coming to terms with the possibility of failure, as well as his attitudes and eventual confrontation with his family, makes a novel that is very hard to put down. The characterizations are outstanding. Williams-Garcia has aptly captured the feelings of young people in the throes of growing away from their families enough to make their own decisions. The language is colorful and vibrant--these kids sound like students in many high school hallways. Teens everywhere will be able to identify and commiserate with Denzel as he goes through his options, gains confidence, and matures.-- Pat Royal, Crossland High School, Camp Springs, MD

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780141302317
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
12/28/1998
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
1,424,783
Product dimensions:
4.40(w) x 7.10(h) x 0.51(d)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Meet the Author

Rita Williams-Garcia (born 1957) is an American writer of young adult novels. She won the 2011 Newbery Honor Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for her book, One Crazy Summer. She has also won the PEN/Norma Klein Award, and her book, P.S. Be Eleven, won the Coretta Scott King Award in 2014. Garcia lives with her husband, a Desert Storm veteran, and two daughters in Jamaica, New York. She works full-time for a marketing services company and attended the Queens College M.A. program.

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