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Review of Miles Morales

Miles Morales
by Jason Reynolds
Middle School, High School    Marvel/Disney    263 pp.    g
8/17    978-1-4847-8748-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-368-00137-3    $10.99

In this tale based on a 2011 Marvel comic, sixteen-year-old Miles Morales is Spider-Man, but his spidey-sense feels broken, and he isn’t feeling much like anyone’s hero. Black and Puerto Rican, he’s from a “neighborhood of nobodies,” the “part of Brooklyn that Brooklyn Visions Academy didn’t have much vision for at all.” And his history teacher at that prestigious academy (to which Miles has a scholarship) seems to have something against him. Mr. Chamberlain spouts racist sentiments (“Many slaves were comfortable with being enslaved. Happy even”) and turns out to be part of an ancient organization led by a centuries-old villain working to perpetuate white supremacy by funneling young black men out of school and into the prison system. The novel has its fair share of action adventure, with Spider-Man using his spidey skills to hustle money on basketball courts, vanquish thieves, and swing from rooftop to rooftop. But it’s also an expertly spun tale of identity that takes Miles—just like Peter Parker, the original Spider-Man—from questioning who he is to finding a fair measure of purpose and resolve. And when his best friend asks, “Does, uh, Spider-Man get the girl?” Miles replies, “Stop talking like we’re in a movie, Ganke. The girl has a name.” Expect sequels.

From the September/October 2017 Horn Book Magazine.

About Dean Schneider

Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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