Skip to main content

Patina

I enjoyed Ghost, the first book in Jason Reynolds' series about the new kids on an elite track team. It was excellent just as everything published so far by Reynolds has been. In 2017 I made his YA book my priority because I do tend to love his YA works slightly more. As a result, reading Patina got pushed into the start of 2018. I hate that I waited, but also I'm happy to start of a new year of reading on such a high note. This book is fabulous.

Patty is always running even off the truck. She runs from one thing to another as she tries to do all and be all to the people around her. She has to help take care of her sister because she always has, even though now they live with their aunt and uncle who are wonderful. She has to help take care of mom, because her mom lost both of her legs to diabetes. She has a group project at school and is doing all the work because someone has to. She has to win at her track meets because she ain't no junk, and that's what she's supposed to do. Win. Over a week when life blows up for her more ways than one, Patty learns a lot about community, relying on other people, and exactly what's most important.

One thing Jason Reynolds always excels at is voice. This is, I believe, the first time he's tackled a female narrator though. He got it right here too. One thing I'm appreciating about this series now there are two books out is also how much Reynolds is getting the middle school voice. Ghost was exactly the right combination of impulsive, aggressive, and skeptical. Patty is the right combination of attitude, superiority, and cynicism. Both are exactly as self-centered as middle schoolers often are in that they often don't see past their own noses. Everything is about them. These kids embody all the reasons people say they don't enjoy hanging out with or teaching middle schoolers. (And all the reasons I LOVE to do both of those.) The thing about middle schoolers is, with the right sort of guidance, that's when they start learning how to be not only themselves but part of a wider community too. Patty is struggling with a lot. Though she is loved (and knows it) and well cared for, her father is dead and her mother is gravely ill. Her aunt and uncle are wonderful, but this girl has experienced trauma and it shows. She has started a new fancy school where she is a black girl surrounded by white people-people have far more wealth than the people in her previous school. She is trying to figure out how and where to fit into that. She is one of the new kids on the Defenders and has just been chosen to race with some of the veterans on the 800 relay. She has put a lot of expectations on herself, and she refuses to accept failure of any kind-even if it isn't really failure and coming in second rather than first in a race.

The book begins at the first track meet where Patty comes in second and is none to happy about it. Then follows a week that would wear any person down. I really enjoyed what Reynolds did with the plotting here. This is a character focused work. We follow Patty through an incredibly stressful and intense week. There isn't any one major thing. It's all the vagaries of life we experience from one day to the next with the sudden unexpected punches that seem to come at the worst times. We live Patty's life with her  as she learns to appreciate the people around her in new ways through it all at home, at school, and at the track. The way Reynolds pulled it all together and packed every day life full of so much meaning and intensity in so few pages is really quite extraordinary.

Can I also say that I really like the way Reynolds is ending these so far? I won't go too much into the whys of that because spoilers. Suffice it to say that I think it's super clever and meaningful in so many ways.

This series is a must read for any kids who enjoy realistic stories featuring school, friends, and family. No other series comes close to touching all of these things as well and realistically as this one does. Even better, you don't necessarily have to read them in order. All told there will be four books, each featuring one of the newbies on the track team. The new one up is Sunny. His book releases April 10, 2018.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

TTT: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly themed blog hop created by  The Broke and the Bookish  and now hosted at  That Artsy Reader Girl . This Week's Topic: Most Recent Additions to My TBR List From Most Recent to Least: What books have recently caught your eye?

Favorite Kissing Scenes

When thinking of a favorite things post I could do for February I decided it would have to be kissing. I've already done couples and I was feeling in the mood to do something fluffy and Valentine's related. So kisses it is. I read more MG than YA, and the YA I read tends to not focus on romance so this was actually harder than I expected it to be though a few jumped into my head right away. (And one of my choices does actually come from a MG book. One is adult. Gasp!) The actual scene from the book is quoted followed by my thoughts. The king lifted a hand to her cheek and kissed her. It was not a kiss between strangers, not even a kiss between a bride and a groom. It was a kiss between a man and his wife, and when it was over, the king closed his eyes and rested his forehead against the hollow of the queen's shoulder, like a man seeking respite, like a man reaching home at the end of the day . - The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner Turner doesn't write the

Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper  by Daniel José Older is everywhere. Best of lists. Award buzz. Blogs everywhere. It's one of those books everyone is reading and talking about. I had it on my TBR but decided I definitely needed to read it before the year was out just so I could weigh in on one of the most talked about books of 2015 if asked. It is deserving of every good thing said about it. Every. One. Sierra was looking forward to a relaxing summer break. Her plans involved hanging out with her friends and painting. They did not involve being chased by zombie like creatures and threatened by a magical power connected to her family's heritage she has never heard of. When murals begin fading all over her Brooklyn neighborhood, Sierra is perplexed. When her grandfather, who had a stroke, begins to apologize and starts repeating strange phases and insisting Sierra get the help of a boy she barely knows to help her finish her mural, Sierra is concerned but mostly about her grandfather. Then at a

Jinx's Fire

I have been a big fan of Jinx and company from the very first book, which felt like such a perfect Brandy book. The conclusion of Sage Blackwood's trilogy, Jinx's Fire , finished the story beautifully and is definitely my favorite of the three. Spoilers for first two books abound. Read those first: Jinx Jinx's Magic The Urwald is in danger from more than one direction and has no hope of defending itself if there is not unity amongst the people. Jinx, Sophie, Elfwyn, Wendell, and a dedicated group of others are working to make this happen as quickly as they can. Time is running out. At the same time, they are still dealing with the threat of the Bonemaster from within, and the Urwald's magic is fading. Where is it going? Can it be restored? And where has the Bonemaster put Simon? Jinx is the only one who can find the answers to these questions, and harnass the Urwald's power to save them all, but only if he is willing. Jinx has some serious attitude in this

Serafina and the Black Cloak

Serafina and the Black Cloak  by Robert Beatty is a thrilling tale of mystery and adventure set at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC in 1899. Having lived in Asheville and visited the house several times, there was no way I was going to pass up a chance to read this. (Also it's MG fantasy, always a bonus for me.) Serafina lives in secret in the basement of the Vanderbilt's spacious vacation home. She has lived there most of her life. Her father worked on the house as it was being built and is the mechanic who runs the massive generator and keeps the electricity going. Serafina is the chief rat catcher, slipping through the halls of her massive home secretly and quietly. She is light on her feet, sees well in the dark, and is quick enough to catch the vermin and keep them out. Serafina knows she if different and strange. Her father insists she stay hidden. But all that changes when one night Serafina witnesses a horrible crime. A little girl, a guest in the house, is fleein