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Miracle's Boys

by Jacqueline Woodson


Publishers Weekly :

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Once again, Woodson (If You Come Softly; From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun) reveals a keen understanding of the adolescent psyche via the narration of a winning seventh-grader. Lafayette, whose mother has recently died, is worried that some day he will be separated from his two older brothers: high-school-graduate Ty'ree, who gave up a scholarship to MIT to take care of his younger siblings; and Charlie, the rebellious middle boy, who, after spending more than two years in a correctional facility, has returned home cold and tough. (Lafayette calls him "Newcharlie," because his brother, with whom he was once so close, now seems unrecognizable to him.) Viewing household tensions and hardships through Lafayette's eyes, readers will come to realize each character's internal conflicts and recognize their desperate need to cling together as a family. The boys' loyalties to one another are tested during a cathartic climax, though it is resolved a bit too easily, and Lafayette's visions of his mother aren't fully developed or integrated into the plot. Gang violence and urban poverty play an integral part in this novel, but what readers will remember most is the brothers' deep-rooted affection for one another. An intelligently wrought, thought-provoking story. Ages 10-up.

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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School Library Journal :

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Gr 6-10-A compelling novel about three streetwise New York City brothers trying to help one another confront their personal demons. Thirteen-year-old Lafayette still grieves for his mother, who died of diabetes two years earlier. He blames himself for not being able to save her. Older brother Ty'ree is more mature and responsible but he, too, is tormented by the past. He witnessed his father rescue a drowning woman and later die of hypothermia before Lafayette was born, and he continues to feel guilty for not being able to help him. Lafayette and Ty'ree take comfort in school, work, and other routines of daily life to keep their lives focused and their minds off the past. All of this changes, however, when a middle brother named Charlie returns from a juvenile-detention facility where he served a three-year sentence for an armed robbery. Having this angry, sometimes hostile presence in their lives forces Lafayette and Ty'ree to depend upon one another even more to work through their grief and figure out how to help Charlie survive. As usual, Woodson's characterizations and dialogue are right on. The dynamics among the brothers are beautifully rendered. The narrative is told through dialogue and Lafayette's introspections so there is not a lot of action, but readers should find this story of tough, self-sufficient young men to be powerful and engaging.-Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library

Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
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