Outrunning the Darkness Anne Schraff
Are you familiar with the Bluford High series? If you're a teen librarian, I'm guessing yes. If you're a general fan of YA, maybe not.
I don't know about other libraries, but I CANNOT keep Bluford on the shelf. It's inner-city After School Special-y that is GREAT for reluctant readers. Each book has a different main character and issue, but all the kids go to the same school.
Anyway, Outrunning the Darkness is the first book in a new series by one of the Bluford authors. It has the same vibe, but scales a bit older, so... once your readers outgrow Bluford or have just read them all, Urban Underground is up next. I can't keep this series on the shelf either.
But... I have to wonder why. They're just not... that good. It's predictable and the writing is rather stilted.
In this volume, Jaris is dealing with a depressed father who has taken to drinking. He lets his father's words get to him and is afraid he might end up in the same dark cave. At the same time, there's a pretty girl he likes but she's going to go on a date with a jerk! His grandmother is meddling in all of their family's business and everything is just awful, but salvation might come in the form of school play, which is written by a hip new playwright from New York and being debuted at his school! But... it's just a stage adaption of Tale of Two Cities? How do those go together, I don't know. But, Sydney Carton plays a big role for Jaris and his family, so, yeah.
But here's an example of the writing:
"You know, Trev, sometimes I worry that my parents will break up. Mom hates it when Pop gets all moody and drinks before coming home. She always calls her mother and cries on her shoulder and then Grandma Jessie tells her she's be better off without Pop. I worry that they'll split up," Jaris said.
"You got a good pop," Trevor said. "Mama took our old Ford in to Jackson's, and some other mechanic told her it needed a ton of work, and then your pop just tinkered a little bit and said we'd do fine. He's a good mechanic and he's honest. My mama trusts him. Everybody does. Old Jackson his boss sometimes gives him a hard time, but Jackson tells other people your pop is the best man he's ever had working for him."
"I wish my father was proud of what he did," Jaris complained, "but he's always putting himself down, calling himself a grease monkey. He wanted to go to college when he was young and now he's dissapointed and he turns everything dark. He feels so hopeless and he sort of takes it out being sad and grumpy with Mom. I wish I could make him see he's a winner." (pp65-66)
The dialog isn't realistic and the voice is just off.
So, it's not my cup of tea. I've read 1 because it's so popular and won't read the others. But, the teens cannot get enough, so I shouldn't be hogging copies from them anyway! Overall, this is a series that I'm not like "OMG YOU MUST READ THIS!" BUT! If you're a librarian and don't have this series, or work with teens and aren't familiar, you need to know these books.
Book Provided by... my local library
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