A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramee.
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”- James Baldwin
Some debut novels are written and go overlooked, never to be heard from again. This post I would like to discuss author Lisa Moore Ramee’s beautifully crafted story and timely work of middle-grade fiction, A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE.
This novel should be on every public library and school library shelves pronto!
Our main character, twelve-year-old Shayla, is adjusting to all of the highs and lows as a young black adolescent girl in seventh grade can manage. She has two best friends, Julia (Japanese American) and Isabella (Puerto Rican), they call themselves the United Nations because of their diverse ethnic backgrounds.
Shayla’s home life includes her older sister Hana, who is not someone to hold her discourse when addressing Shalya about her deficiency of black friends, loving and nurturing parents who are open and honest with their daughters about the brutal facts of society. Conversations at the dinner table may include reciting Ralph Waldo Emerson and James Baldwin one day, and the next day they are discussing a trial and protests in their city involving the shooting of an unarmed black man.
Life at school for Shayla is where she has the most awkward situations and challenges. She joins the track team, has a crush on a classmate, and with the slow revelation that her friend Julia is outgrowing their friendship cause friction within her small group. It is Hana’s involvement with the Black Lives Movement, which draws a wedge between Shayla and Hana until the decision of the trial causes significant protests, and Shayla makes a vital choice to wear a black armband as a silent protest — creating a significant shift at school, leaving students to take sides. Instead of the United Nations, it shifts to the Divided Nations.
When a dress code policy is issued not allowing students to wear black armbands at school, Shayla takes a stand and continues to wear the armband despite the new policy. When Shayla and some of her classmates mobilize together and protest at school, giving out black armbands notwithstanding the policy, Shayla is called to the principals’ office for being defiant. By the end of the story, readers see the changes in Shayla as a young girl who finds confidence and embraces her experiences as hurdles; falling, then getting back up to continue the race. Moreover, crossing the finish line, realizing that some things are worth the trouble.
The story deals with issues about racial stereotypes, first crushes, ethnic identity, and friendships in a carefully structured way for middle-grade students to digest.
Of course, there are going to be comparisons to THE HATE U GIVE by Angie Thomas. There is nothing wrong with that association, but this book stands on its own. It is a compelling, witty, poignant novel
Now, let us discuss. We want to hear from our readers.
Filed under: Book Discussion
About Annisha Jeffries
Annisha Jeffries is the head of the youth services department at Cleveland Public Library. She was a member of the 2007 ALSC Board and served on several selection committees, including the 2018 Caldecott Committee. A 2000-2001 Spectrum Scholarship recipient, Jeffries is currently the Chair of the Norman A, Sugarman Children's Biography Award. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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