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Review of A Good Kind of Trouble

A Good Kind of Trouble
by Lisa Moore Ramée
Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    368 pp.    g
3/19    978-0-06-283668-7    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-06-283670-0    $9.99

Shayla’s goals for her first year of junior high are simple. Attract the attention of the cute guy. Avoid the class bully. Don’t make waves. Stay close to her two best friends, Isabella and Julia (with Isabella being Puerto Rican, Julia Japanese American, and Shayla African American, they call themselves “the United Nations”). Unfortunately, it would seem that seventh grade has other plans for Shayla, and soon a schoolwide “dare” game and new social dynamics throw all of her relationships into turmoil. Even as she laments the drama that comes with crushes and miscommunication, Shayla becomes increasingly aware of the Black Lives Matter movement as her Los Angeles community awaits the verdict in a police-shooting case. When the police officer is acquitted, Shayla must decide if she’s willing to stir up trouble for a cause she believes in. Shayla’s first-person account is honest and relatable as she tries to do the right thing by her peers, her school community, and herself. The protagonist’s emotional and civic maturation is believably portrayed, and as her understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement clarifies and deepens, so does the reader’s. (While themes of homophobia, cultural appropriation, and sexual harassment are also introduced, they’re not as fully explored.) Ramée’s debut novel presents a nuanced view of race, self-discovery, and social justice.

From the March/April 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

About Eboni Njoku

Eboni Njoku is a children’s librarian at the Anacostia Neighborhood Library Branch of the DC Public Library.

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