Note: This review can also be found at the Middle Grade Book Village.
Nic Stone is a New York Times Best Selling Author whose work I first experienced when I read her debut YA novel, Dear Martin in 2017. It became a book of my heart. One that I spoke of and shared widely because, for me, Justyce McAllister was just like my son and through its pages, Dear Martin echoed the cries of my heart for social justice and change. That’s what Nic does. She has a way of telling a story that pulls the reader in deep, to the point where they are fully engrossed as the journey unfolds; making the reader an intimate friend living out the experience alongside the characters.
In Clean Getaway the reader gets to buckle up as a passenger aboard G’ma’s RV with her grandson William “Scoob-a-Doob” Lamar, as the two venture off on an impromptu road trip with a grip of money, a treasure box, and a whole lot of family secrets. They’re sort of off the grid and William’s Dad grows more worried by the hour but G’ma is on a mission, crossing multiple state lines to see it through to the end. Along the way, Scoob learns about the Green Book and how it was once used to help keep Black travelers safe. They visited the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, made a stop by Medgar Evers home in Jackson, Mississippi, and made it as far as Texas before anyone could ever catch up to them. It may not have entirely been the clean getaway that G’ma was hoping for, but it was a trip that William “Scoob-a-Doob” Lamar would never forget.
Nic Stone nails Middle Grade and I am grateful to Jason Reynolds for inspiring her to go for it. Clean Getaway is relatable, funny, and heart-warming. The relationship G’ma and Scoob shared made me smile. I also appreciated the historical nuggets that are peppered throughout for our students to glean from. The chapters are short and at only 223 pages, it is the perfect length. Some Middle Grade books can be incredibly long and while there are many students who do borrow lengthy books from our library, most of my students are inclined to pick up the shorter reads. And with the cover art and interior illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile, this is the sort of book that they will be compelled to pick up. I will quickly add this book to our collection for our students to enjoy.
This book is one of my #MustReadin2020 reads. This challenge is hosted by Carrie Gelson of There’s a Book for That. The idea is to set a goal for books that you are most excited to read for the year. I have twenty-two books on my list and this is the second one I was able to finish so far. Curious to see what my list looks like, check out my original post, #MustReadin2020 Reading Challenge.
Nic Stone | http://www.nicstone.info/
Dawud Anyabwile | https://www.anyabwile.com/
Crown Books for Young Readers
An Imprint of Penguin Random House
Book Excursion | PLN Group of Rockstar Reading Educators| #BookExcursion
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Dear Martin by Nic Stone
I look at the cover; I see my son. I read each line, left to right and in between; I hear my son’s voice. Searching for understanding and hope in this dark place, this space where justice is not for all of us; what do I teach my son? Just like Justyce McAllister declares, there are those who will look at him and not see a man with rights. How did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. handle the deep-seated hate and racism he faced? How did he stand confident, in strength, in the face of it all? This is what Justyce grapples with as he begins writing letters to Dr. King, trying to make sense of the world after a good deed lands him in handcuffs. This is a year for Justyce that should be celebrated. Great grades, SAT and ACT scores, acceptance into a prestigious ivy league school, but when one poor decision turns fatal, life as he knows it comes undone. How will he put the pieces back together again? How will we? Justyce McAllister is your son as much as he is mine. How do we make this world a better place for him? For all of us? Read more.