What Lessons Did You Learn In the 7th Grade?
Home-schooled in his whiteness, thirteen-year-old TJ Crowley thinks he knows everything about black people. Not that he’s experienced anything about them firsthand. Everything he knows about them and the ugly names he flings, he learned from his half-crazed mom. She flips out whenever she sees a black person. And lately, she’s been flipping out all the time.
It’s the summer of 1968. The nation is divided and on edge over Civil Rights and the war in Vietnam. Even Walter Cronkite seems confused about what’s going on. The slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. sparked violent protests coast-to-coast, including Wichita, Kansas, a segregated city where, due to racial discrimination, blacks have been forced to live in one Zip Code until now….
In this landmark work of historical YA fiction, two American families with different pigmentation of skin land side-by-side after the new Fair Housing law makes it a crime to discriminate against people of color. Nobody can prevent the Washingtons and their daughter from moving to the home of their dreams, even in an all-white neighborhood like the Crowley’s. Not legally. But the Crowleys are a vengeful brood with ties to very evil men….
For TJ Crowley, it’s been a bummer of a summer. With his father away from home and his brother gone off to fight in Vietnam, TJ and his mom are all alone in their house on the hill just one street away from the racial dividing line. When the nightly curfew kicks-in, their doors are locked tight. While his fearful mom drinks her worries away, TJ watches from the living room window as firebombs light the sky....
Despite everything, TJ is excited about going to Brooks Junior High where he plans to be a sports star. But he’s worried about the 7thGrade because, with forced integration, black students will be bused over the dividing line to join him. He’s also worried about his dorky best friend, Eric, who wears tie-dye and let his hair grow past his collar like a dang hippie.
At thirteen, TJ thinks he knows all there is to know, until the doorbell rings one day and The Real Education of TJ Crowley truly begins….
|Publisher:||Grain Valley Publishing Company|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.85(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
About the Author
Grant began his writing career at 18 years-old at his hometown newspaper, The Wichita Eagle. He went on to attend the University of Kansas School of Journalism, where he won the William Randolph Hearst Award for Excellence in Newspaper Writing, considered the Pulitzer Prize for college journalists. At 24, he was a Staff Writer for one of the top "writer's newspapers" The Miami Herald; and later edited and managed several award-winning Kansas newspapers.
Today, Grant shares his writing know-how and life experiences as a Teaching Artist for Arts Partners of Wichita, including co-leading a summer writing workshop for disadvantaged youth at Storytime Village. He also facilitates Artist's Way creativity workshops and memoir writing classes for adults at various locations, including Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
TJ Crowley may go to school every day but his real education takes place in a garage talking to a man whom he never expected to converse with, let alone grow to like. TJ, in the seventh grade, faces myriad choices amidst confusion and fear as well as anger. Grant Overstake's second YA novel, The Real Education of TJ Crowley, is set in the turbulent years of the Civil Rights Movement in Wichita, Kansas. The summer of 1968 just prior to entering 7th grade leaves TJ Crowley spinning like a top. His dad deserts the family and his older brother joins the Army, then is shipped to Vietnam. His mother spends her days housebound relying on cigarettes and liquor. The author invites the reader on a train ride of problems that TJ encounters and worries he has, as well as choices he must make. At times, I cheered TJ on, then feared for him, and sometimes felt disappointed in a choice he made. I had no problem in turning the page and continuing reading this intriguing story of a turbulent time in our country that resonates even today. Fiery-tempered TJ narrates the story. It doesn't take long to relate to the character and what he is experiencing. The author has created a fine cast of secondary characters who all influence TJ's life in some way. Emotions run on high throughout the book. Timothy Hayes, PhD, Clinical Psychologist offered praise for the book. He said, "This intense young adult novel presents numerous racial stereotypes and then shatters them." I would agree wholeheartedly with his assessment. Adults would benefit from reading this novel as well as the young people it was written for. It's a story that could be used in schools to promote discussion on the racial problems our country still faces today. The author does not tip-toe around what the desegregation problems were like in the late '60's. He is honest in his presentation, no sugar coating. I give The Real Education of TJ Crowley 5 stars and urge anyone who has a middle school or early high school student in their family to purchase this exciting new novel by Grant Overstake. It's historical fiction at its best and a good story. Gift it to the young person but also read it yourself.