Sellout

Sellout

4.6 3
by Ebony Joy Wilkins
     
 

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NaTasha has a wonderful life in affluent Park Adams. She fits in, she has friends, and she's a member of the all-white ballet troupe. Being nearly the only African American in her school doesn't bother NaTasha. But it bothers Tilly, NaTasha's spitfire grandmother from Harlem, who decides NaTasha needs to get back to her roots or her granddaughter is in danger of… See more details below

Overview

NaTasha has a wonderful life in affluent Park Adams. She fits in, she has friends, and she's a member of the all-white ballet troupe. Being nearly the only African American in her school doesn't bother NaTasha. But it bothers Tilly, NaTasha's spitfire grandmother from Harlem, who decides NaTasha needs to get back to her roots or her granddaughter is in danger of losing herself completely. Tilly whisks NaTasha away to a world where all of a sudden nothing in NaTasha's life makes any sense: Harlem and Comfort Zone in the Bronx, a crisis center where (cont'd)

Tilly volunteers her time to help troubled girls get on the right track. Girls who are completely unlike anyone NaTasha has ever encountered. These girls are rough, beautiful, streetwise, sure of themselves, and wield their secrets like knives--and they dislike NaTasha and her world of privilege with a passion.

If there is ever a time when NaTasha feels like running away from something, now is it. But she doesn't. She stands her ground. And what she discovers surprises everyone, especially NaTasha.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
As an African-American, NaTasha is in the minority in her New Jersey suburb, but her social situation changes drastically and presents a set of new challenges when she spends several weeks with her grandmother, Tilly, in Harlem. Tilly is a well-crafted, fiery character who volunteers at Amber's Place, a teen crisis center. She brings NaTasha with her in hopes of broadening her experience, though NaTasha feels out of her league ("I didn't belong here, among these girls.... Their stories were straight from the talk shows, stories that weren't even real"). A trio of aggressive, cliquey girls resent NaTasha for her perceived snobbery, and over the course of the novel, all the girls are forced to release their preconceived notions about each other, face their fears, and work together in order to plan a graduation/recognition ceremony. NaTasha has a tendency to spell out every detail of what she's thinking or going through, but it's rewarding to watch her growth, as she recognizes her own problems (at one point confessing she wishes she weren't black), while debut author Wilkins explores the building of confidence, morals, and survival skills. Ages 12-up. (July)
Children's Literature - Lauri Berkenkamp
The fact that NaTasha is the only African-American girl in her lily-white suburb has never bothered her much, but when she experiences a humiliating disaster involving a fake hairpiece at the ballet recital she didn't want to attend, she acquiesces to her grandmother Tilly's wishes to spend some time at Tilly's apartment in Harlem. Tilly wants NaTasha to experience life in the city and learn more about where her family originated. NaTasha is initially reluctant, especially since Tilly wants her to volunteer at a youth center that has special programs for troubled teenage girls the same age as NaTasha. And, somewhat predictably, NaTasha doesn't fit in at all with the girls at the center, who call her a "sellout" because she talks like she's white and wears clothes more appropriate for the wealthy suburbs. Over the course of the summer with Tilly, however, NaTasha learns to become comfortable with who she is as a person of color, and also learns not to tamp down the things she likes about herself to fit in with others. NaTasha learns to hold her own with the girls at the youth center, and she experiences the ups and downs of first romance. Overall, Wilkins has succeeded in combining a fairly standard coming-of-age story with issues of race and violence without overdoing it. A few of the characters are fairly shallowly drawn, particularly the adults in the book: Tilly, although appealing, is a walking stereotype of a strong black woman who cooks up a storm and alternatively scolds and cares for everyone in her neighborhood, and the adults at the youth center don't have much impact. Several of the girls in the youth center are stock tough girls, as are NaTasha's white friends. NaTasha, however, is excellently portrayed as a conflicted girl coming to terms with accepting her differences and embracing her strengths. This is an entertaining and uplifting read, although the content is mature. Appropriate for middle school and up. Reviewer: Lauri Berkenkamp
School Library Journal
Gr 7–10—This warm if message-heavy novel about race, fitting in, and finding oneself stars high school freshman NaTasha, an insecure African American who attends a snooty white school in suburban New Jersey. Wanting to maintain her popularity with her white friends, particularly Heather, NaTasha painstakingly irons her hair and forces herself to learn ballet. NaTasha spends the summer in Harlem with her grandmother, Tilly, who volunteers at a crisis center in the Bronx. Initially, Tash feels she has little in common with these rough girls whose struggles include addiction, abuse, self-destructive behavior, pregnancy, and prison. They are nasty to NaTasha, considering her a snobby "sellout." At the center of the story is Tilly, a strong, opinionated community pillar whose loving but firm influence inspires her granddaughter even as NaTasha struggles to make sense of the Amber's Place girls' hostility, Heather's betrayals, and the attentions of two intriguing neighbor boys. Some elements of the story tie up too easily—NaTasha's greatest tormentors warm up to her a bit too quickly to be believed—but the message of staying true to oneself shines through.—Megan Honig, New York Public Library
From the Publisher

Praise for Sellout

“The message of staying true to oneself shines through.”–School Library Journal

“Successfully presents a character open to the change she experiences.”–Kirkus Reviews

“Debut author Wilkins explores the building of confidence, morals, and survival skills.”–Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780545109284
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
07/01/2010
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
1,340,571
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)
Lexile:
720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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