In my opinion, Jason Reynolds's work connects to everyone but especially kids in the same type of urban background that he himself is from. His style of writing draws people in, regardless of age or race, and that is something that I love in an author. Each of the following books tap into a character that people can either recognize as themselves or someone they know.
Ghost (Castle Crenshaw) has a natural talent....RUNNING! You could say he’s good because he has been doing it for a long time but for all the wrong reasons. That is until he comes across the Defenders Track Team practice. He knows he’s fast! So, he decides to test his luck one afternoon and challenges the Defenders Captain Lu to a race. He crosses the finish line just after Lu but didn’t walk away empty-handed. He was offered a chance to join the team, and in hindsight, a shot at a college scholarship with some coaching.
“You can't run away from who you are, but what you can do is run toward who you want to be.” - Ghost
Ghost is definitely the bait book of the series, since it is the first book in the Track Series. It draws you into the life on an inner city kid who has had a rough upbringing, as well as takes you on this adventure that he goes on to discover his new potential and learning to play nice with a team. I love recommending this book to the boys that I work with around the age of 11 years old and up. I think it is very similar to their backgrounds and sheds light on a positive outlet to dealing with their raw emotions. Although I love ALL the books in the series, Ghost holds a special place in my heart, since it was my introduction to Jason Reynolds! It also reminded me of my childhood since I grew up in an urban environment and began to run track at an early age. As an only child, I had to learn how to get along with my teammates and build relationships that were more than just track related.
Patina by Jason Reynolds is about a young African American teenager who runs track for more reasons than she would like to admit. She is one of the best girls on the Defenders track team but struggles to keep it that way. She is faced with juggling her reality at “home,” while also trying to fit in not only with her team but at school. Learning to adjust and survive not only for herself but also for her family is a task that she comes to find isn’t as hard as she thinks, once she lets go of her anxiety.
As a Black woman, Patina has been taught what every black girl learns at an early age… how to be strong!
What can I say about Patina?? As a Black woman, Patina has been taught what every black girl learns at an early age… how to be strong! Patina by Jason Reynolds is definitely a page turner. It had me hoping for the best for this girl who I knew didn’t actually exist but also felt like she did. I mean how could she not? Growing up in the projects in the South Bronx, I was lucky enough to live in a two-parent home with parents who were overall healthy. But I had plenty of friends who at a young age had to grow up faster due to their situation at home. Patina tells this story so well. She doesn’t want to further complicate the lives of her aunt and uncle, so she is always willing to lend a helping hand in any way she can. She keeps her emotional state to herself but quickly learns that it is okay to express how she is feeling.
Working in Richland Library’s Outreach Department, I often find myself interacting with young girls who often reflect the same life of Patina. Whenever I do, I tend to recommend that they read this book and hope that it gives them the same hope that I felt for Patina. The best part is that they get to still keep up with her while learning about her team mate Sunny in the third book in this series.
New York, NY: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 2016.
Formats: Book, ebook, eAudiobook, Audiobook, Audiobook on CD
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