Posts Tagged 'class'

Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Number of Pages: 387 p.

Ash is a typical football player in his high school when one day he takes a big hit and wakes up to a changed world. The changes aren’t big at first, stop signs are now blue and no one but him remembers them ever being red, etc. As he tries to make sense of these changes, though, he knows that with each big hit he could potentially see bigger changes, which is exactly what happens. He quickly learns that there are infinite possibilities for what his world could become and in a lot of ways he just wants to go back to where he started, but isn’t sure how to do that. Meanwhile, his best friend suffers some devastating losses in the new realities and he desperately wants to help him. Can he find a way to fix the world that has become so fragmented? Can he find out why this is happening?

Each reality brings major changes to Ash’s world and several big issues are discussed such as wealth, race, gender, and abuse. Ash’s character is remarkably open and mature to the changes he sees every time he takes a big hit and he seems determined to try and make his world a better place. His shock every time someone tries to intimidate him into doing something against his moral compass is not surprising. The ending will satisfy readers and leave them thinking a lot about different realities in their own world.

The Downstairs Girl by Stacey Lee

Genre: Historical Fiction

Number of Pages: 374

In 1890 Atlanta, Jo Kuan is trying to make her way in the world when people often look down on Asian American people. She had previously spent two years working as a milliner’s apprentice only to abruptly lose her job simply because the milliner said she made some people uncomfortable. With few options, she takes a job as a ladies’ maid for a cruel young lady named Caroline. Jo and the man who raised her secretly live underneath the house of a family who run a newspaper. Jo can hear through the floor that the newspaper is struggling and so she anonymously starts writing a ladies column under the pen name Miss Sweetie and starts leaving them under the door. So, by day she works as a maid in a thankless job and by night she secretly writes her column that isn’t afraid to touch on issues such as women’s rights and courting practices. As such, her column becomes an overnight sensation as everyone debates who Miss Sweetie could be. She knows if she is ever discovered she will be cast out because she is not meant to rise above her station in any way. Meanwhile, the adult son of the family who lives above her is very interested to find out who is writing the column for his now popular newspaper, but can he be trusted? Also, the man who raised her has been acting peculiarly and she thinks he is hiding something. Could he be trying to arrange a marriage for her?

Even though this book is set in 1890 there are many issues that relate to today. Jo Kuan is trying to find acceptance in a place where she is judged by her face and her name. She knows she has a lot to offer society, but isn’t sure they will ever let her. It’s a struggle for her to fight the prejudices about not only her race but also her gender and she desperately wants to find a way to make a difference. At the same time, she often shows kindness and compassion for those who have a lot more opportunity in life. She never takes her personal frustrations out on those who were simply dealt an easier lot in life. There are those around her who do try to treat her fairly, but it is difficult knowing how hard everything has to be for people of certain circumstances. This story is recommended for those who like historical fiction, but also those who like more contemporary books such as The Hate You Give. This title also leaves the reader with a lot to think about.

Hard Ball by Will Weaver

Genre:  Sports Fiction

Age Level:  12 and up

# of Pages:  240 p.

RAC Book:  Yes

Billy Baggs has been enemies with King Kenwood ever since he can remember.  They are both strong baseball players, but Billy lives on a farm far out of town and King lives in town in a big house.  Their fathers have clashed for many years and they both have a crush on the same girl.  There are numerous reasons why they have failed to see eye to eye over the years. 

Right before they begin high school they get into a big fight and their baseball coach says they have to spend one entire week together or else he won’t let them on the team.  When King stays on the farm he pitches in and helps with the chores.  He begins to see how difficult life is for a kid on a farm.  He has to get up early and do chores before getting on an hour long bus ride to school.  He does it all with minimal complaining, however. 

When Billy stays in town he sees that life isn’t as easy for King as he thought.  His mother drinks and his father works long hours, so King is responsible for making all the meals in the house and cleaning.  Also, his father puts a lot of pressure on him to work out and practice baseball in the hopes of getting a scholarship someday.

Both boys end up finding that they need to understand more about where the other one is coming from before passing judgment.  They also learn how to work together in order to improve their current situations before they both crack under all the responsibilities heaped upon them.  A good book about sports and high school.


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