Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Standing Against the Wind A Get-Up-And-Cheer Kind of Novel

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Patrice Williams has smarts, just not the kind she needs to survive on the mean streets of inner-city Chicago. All the A's in the world won't be enough to make the 13-year-old fit in - they can't make her poofy hair settle down, they can't erase her Southern accent, they can't turn her pretty or glamorous or even tough enough to stand up to her tormentors. And they certainly can't shuttle her back in time, back to Georgia, where she used to live happily with her grandmother. All the A's in the world can't change her grim reality. Except maybe they can.

When Patrice's principal urges her to apply for a scholarship to a prestigious African-American boarding school in Mississippi, Patrice feels a twinge of hope. She knows she couldn't really go. If she took off, who would watch her young cousins, not to mention do their laundry, cook their food, and help them with their homework while their mom does double shifts to make rent? Certainly not Patrice's 18-year-old sister, who's too busy working or hunting down Mr. Right to pay an ounce of attention to what's going on with Patrice. Still, Patrice has to try.

Unexpected help comes in the form of her suave classmate, Monty Freeman. Although he seems eager to help Patrice, she's not really sure if she can trust him. School gossip pegs him for a drug dealer. Besides, the more she relies on him, the more of a problem he's becoming - she's not sure she can leave Monty any more than she can leave her cousins and Aunt Mae. And then there's the little problem of completing the application. Exactly when is she going to have time to do that?

Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones is a get-up-and-cheer kind of novel, one that makes you root hard for the plucky heroine who, you just know, is going to triumph over all her troubles. Although it takes a hard, unsentimental look at inner-city life, the story gathers warmth and heart from its strong, engaging characters. Hopeful and touching, Standing Against the Wind had me laughing, crying, and running to Amazon to purchase a copy for myself. Would it be redundant to say I loved it? Probably. But still ... I loved it.

Grade: B+

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), sexual innuendo/content, and mature themes

To the FTC, with love: Another library fine find

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