Review of Take Back the Block

Take Back the Block
by Chrystal D. Giles
Intermediate, Middle School    Random    240 pp.    g
1/21    978-0-593-17517-0    $16.99
Library ed.  978-0-593-17518-7    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-17519-4    $9.99

The most important things on Wes Henderson’s mind this summer are hanging out with his friends, having the newest, freshest sneakers, and preparing for his first year of middle school. Activism is the last thing he is interested in, especially because he is so often forced to participate in his parents’ protests and community service (or, as he puts it, spending his weekends around “old people”). His ambivalence turns to determination after learning that developers are eyeing his vibrant, close-knit neighborhood, including the family home his grandfather had saved for ten years to purchase. Even Wes’s lifelong friendships turn tense as the decisions to stay and fight or sell and leave put pressure on his most important relationships. Giles’s middle-grade debut is a timely, relatable story about family, friendship, community, and racism. In dealing with challenging themes around gentrification, the story capably illustrates the practice’s social costs through characters who humanize and simplify this complicated topic for young people. The underlying message: you are never too young to make your voice heard.

From the July/August 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Monique Harris

Monique Harris is a public educator, reading specialist and independent educational consultant. She holds a Master of Science degree in Education from Simmons University, and is enrolled in a PhD program at Florida State University.

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