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Helene-Angel's day in a mixed-race elementary school proceeds typically until she's walking home behind her brother, Mauricio, "so I wouldn't be mistaken for his girl, you know." The Hawks, a white gang, knock Mauricio aside and spray-paint Helene-Angel's face white. At home, Grandma cleans her up and allows her sanctuary in her room, whispering comforting words through a closed door as the incident is publicized outside Helene-Angel's window. After a week, Grandma insists that she open the door "and be strong." Believing herself an embarrassment, Helene-Angel opens the door to find her whole class there, smiling and pledging support before they sweep her onto the street and off to school. Seeing Mauricio hanging back "like a dog with his tail between his legs," Helene-Angel grabs his hand: "You know, we've got a right to be here, too"—a somewhat formal assertion, given the raw emotion that has informed the rest of the book. The book's a shocker, and it means to be. Young readers will be demolished by what happens to Helene-Angel, and reassured by the reactions and behavior of her grandmother and classmates.