Gr 9 Up-- The teenagers of the title are multiracial students from various socio-economic backgrounds at Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities in New York City. Their candid comments are occasionally predictable, but more often are revealing and thought-provoking. Clearly the contents could be used as discussion starters in classes not only in conjunction with specific subjects, but also as a way of exploring the differences in attitudes in other regions of the country. High quality, full-page black-and-white photographs of some of the staff members and student body are included. Librarians and teachers will need to make YAs aware of this title through booktalks, displays, and other devices as the topic is not an especially common one. --Dona Weisman, Northeast Texas Library System, Garland
Of all Kuklin's interview-style books, including "What Do I Do Now?" (1991), about teenage pregnancy, this will have the widest audience and leave the greatest impact because its setting is one of the places kids identify with the most--their school. It is the result of a year's worth of observation of students and faculty at Manhattan's Bayard Rustin High School for the Humanities, a public school with a fairly evenly distributed student population comprising Asian and African Americans, whites, and Latinos. Kuklin listened in on classroom and school-club discussions and interviewed individual students and teachers in an attempt to gauge prejudice among today's young adults Exposing frustration as well as anger lurking beneath the school's surface, she has captured a wide range of feeling--from the opinion of the young NAAWP (National Association for the Advancement of White People) member who declares, "So many things are unfair. All the emphasis is on the African- American person who is oppressed in America. What about the poor oppressed whites?" to that of the girl who admits, "I know that prejudice is one of those things we have to face. But I wish that the club [the school's Humane Humanity Club] wouldn't talk about it so I wouldn't have to know about it." The students and teachers speak candidly about many things related to identity--being short, having a speech impediment, being gay, being in a special education class--but race and cultural diversity are the primary topics, and what readers learn will either shock them considerably or validate what they already know. The book offers no answers--Kuklin in no way interjects her own views. It does, however, make clear the insidious nature of prejudice, and it will inspire readers to think about the stereotypes they have acquired from their parents, from television, from their friends, and from what they read. Although rather arbitrary in its mixing of reported classroom conversations and personal profiles, the book is, nonetheless, an excellent springboard for class discussion, in addition to being an extraordinarily compelling reminder of the power of words to hurt and to heal. Excellent black-and-white portraits of some of the people with whom Kuklin speaks give character to the voices.