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Noah and his friends go to a predominantly all-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, becomes the victim of a vicious beating that leaves him with a fractured skull. The question is, was the attacker protecting his turf, or did he target Noah just because he's black?

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Overview

Noah and his friends go to a predominantly all-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, becomes the victim of a vicious beating that leaves him with a fractured skull. The question is, was the attacker protecting his turf, or did he target Noah just because he's black?

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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: 9780670062836
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/19/2009
  • Pages: 160
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Paul Volponi is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Black & White. From 1992 to 1998, he taught adolescents on Rikers Island in New York City to read and write. Mr. Volponi worked at a day treatment center like Daytop teaching students and helping them prepare for the GED. Mr. Volponi lives in New York City.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    Noah has grown up in East Franklin, a predominately black area. One night when he and two friends decide to head on over to nearby Hillsboro (about 95% white) to boost a car, life changes dramatically.

    The three friends never get to commit their intended crime because they run into three white teens bent on keeping their neighborhood free of blacks. The white boys verbally abuse and threaten Noah and his friends, and it's when they begin to chase them that things take a turn. Noah trips and falls. An angry youth nicknamed Scat swings a baseball bat and fractures Noah's skull.

    The quick response of paramedics and the quality treatment at the Hillsboro hospital work together to save young Noah. He's plagued with headaches and will live with a metal plate stitched into his head, but he will live to finish high school and be around to be a father for his baby daughter.

    When it was determined that the three Hillsboro teens had no way of knowing Noah and his friends were there to steal a car, arrests were made and the three were charged with a hate crime. The actual attack was horrific, but now Noah and his family must live through the stressful experience of a trial. They learn the hard way about harassment and plea bargains as they attend countless meetings with county provided attorneys.

    Paul Volponi brings headline material to life in RESPONSE. He portrays a black family working together to educate their son and help him and his teenage girlfriend raise their own child. In Noah, readers will meet a frightened yet determined young man learning how to make his way in a not-so-friendly world.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    A good book to read

    The book reponse is a book to read

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  • Posted August 23, 2010

    Response by Paul Volponi

    This book was a very thrilling book, because one day Noah and his friends went to Hillsboro to steal an expensive car. Then when they got there they realized that they did not want to do it so th ey just went to eat pizza and when they got out of the pizza place they found some white guys who where insulting them. Then one of them got a baseball metal bat and they started chasing them, so Noah and his friends started running and then Noah tripped and then they hit him with the metal baseball bat and they fractured his skull. Then they put his life in danger because they were about to kill him when they fractured his skull ,when he was going to have a daughter with Deshawna. So if he died his daughter was not going to have a dad. Noah´s life is very dramatic because of his grandma who died, and then he was going to send a guy to jail because they fractured his skull.After a few days the police arrested the guy with the bat then at the end they were going to give him 25 years of jail and then Noah talked to the judge and they only gave him 18 years of jail. So I would recommend this book to a friend. I also want to read the book ¨black and white¨ by Paul Volponi.

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  • Posted February 4, 2009

    terrific book for teens

    A terrific book for teens. Full of fear, and forgiveness. Deep characters and plenty to discuss about right and wrong. A real winner in the true style of Paul Volponi's Black and White and Rooftop.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 17, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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