Response

Response

4.1 6
by Paul Volponi
     
 

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Noah and his friends go to a predominantly white neighborhood with a plan: steal a car, sell it to a chop shop, and make some fast cash. But that never happens. Instead, Noah, a teen father, is the victim of a vicious beating that leaves him with a fractured skull. Was the attacker just protecting his turf, or did he assault Noah because he's black?

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Overview

Noah and his friends go to a predominantly white neighborhood with a plan: steal a car, sell it to a chop shop, and make some fast cash. But that never happens. Instead, Noah, a teen father, is the victim of a vicious beating that leaves him with a fractured skull. Was the attacker just protecting his turf, or did he assault Noah because he's black? Awardwinning author Paul Volponi, known for his brutally honest portrayals of the moral complexities of urban life, uses alternating perspective to give readers a fascinating and chilling insight into the minds of those on both sides of a hate crime.

Editorial Reviews

BCCB
Noah's epiphany concerning his roles as son, friend, father, and lover is convincingly handled, and readers will hail his graduation from an alternative high school-program as an authentic victory.
Booklist
Writing in an authentic voice, Volponi balances sensitivity and rage, but his most subtle achievement is the multi-generational family drama.
Children's Literature - Amanda MacGregor
Noah and his friends, all African American, go to a mostly white (Italian-American) neighborhood, and plan to steal a car and sell it for parts. Noah is initially reluctant about the plan but goes along with it knowing it will get him some much needed cash for his baby daughter. Before they can even steal a car, they are attacked by three white boys. Noah's friends escape, but Noah is brutally beaten with an aluminum bat. Because the assailants ostensibly beat Noah simply because of the color of his skin, the offense is prosecuted as a hate crime. Noah's case stirs the already strong racial tension in the city, spurring protests, marches, and comments from both groups at school. Now constantly looking over his shoulder, Noah wonders what good can come of prosecuting the boys and what it will take for things to change. The novel changes perspective, showing not only what Noah is thinking, but what Charlie Scat, the baseball bat-wielding attacker, is thinking as he is imprisoned and awaiting trail. Noah is a sympathetic character, a "super senior" looking to finally graduate high school and hopefully go to college to be an engineer. His relationships as both a young father and a son show how the assault affects his entire life. Though the insidious racism sometimes seems too overblown to feel real, Volponi creates a thoughtful story sure to inspire discussion about racism and the judicial system. Frequent profanity makes this title more appropriate for older teen readers and the short chapters and street slang will draw in even the most reluctant readers. Reviewer: Amanda MacGregor
School Library Journal

Gr 6-10

Seventeen-year-old Noah and his two buddies go to an Italian-American neighborhood, intent on stealing a car to sell for parts. Instead, some thugs target the African-American teens and beat Noah's head in with a baseball bat. The unrepentant bat wielder, Charlie Scaturro, and his cohorts are charged with a hate crime. His cousin Spenelli confesses and the third boy, the son of a police officer, testifies to avoid prosecution. At Noah's mostly black school, white kids wear "Free Spenelli" T-shirts and the gym teacher is a vicious, obvious bigot. All of the basher's Italian-American friends and family are unabashedly racist. Volponi presents Noah's life as a student, son, and teen father simply though not simplistically. The dialogue between the protagonist and his buddies and family is occasionally precious, but mostly natural. Volponi interjects film-script dialogue of events in prison, and in Charlie's head. Though these episodes highlight Charlie's narcissism, they detract from the (mildly) suspenseful mood and slow the pace of the narrative. The racism in this town is so vicious and public, so over-the-top that it's hard to see the white, mostly Italian Americans as anything but caricatures. Though it's certainly easy to believe the events of this story, Volponi's portrayal is never wholly convincing.-Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

Kirkus Reviews
A white-on-black assault reignites racial tensions between two long-segregated towns, leaving Noah wondering how he can receive justice from a biased judicial system, while Charlie wrestles with his apparent abandonment by the community he sought to defend. Whether at school or while awaiting trial, the two young men prepare to deal with the consequences of their actions. Both voices are hurt and uncertain. Noah's first-person carries the narrative and has greater sensitivity, while Charlie's voice, heard via script-like dialogues that punctuate Noah's account along with newspaper stories, provides a contrast in bravado. Though the characters have a wide emotional range, their personalities do not have a comparable depth. Volponi's usual feel for interpersonal relationships is missing, leaving the stock characters stale. The narrative lacks his previous subtlety as well, leaving readers feeling browbeaten by a dominating moral message. Noah never honestly acknowledges his culpability, while Charlie's confession is forced. Readers will appreciate the author's continued efforts to advocate for urban teens, but will also hope his next work is back on target. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780142416037
Publisher:
Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date:
07/08/2010
Pages:
176
Sales rank:
875,194
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.50(d)
Lexile:
HL880L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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