Black Boy/White School
Published on Monday, October 15, 2012 - 3:45pm
Black Boy/White School by Brian Walker tackles the idea of identity and belonging. Anthony “Ant” Jones, an East Cleveland native, has been forced by his mother to apply to Belton, a private, preparatory high school in Maine. Though his school performance is about average, Ant is accepted, much to his dismay and apprehension. It is not until one of his good friends is gunned down that Ant willingly leaves East Cleveland, seeing Maine as a safer option. What he finds is a completely different world.
In Belton, people call him “Tony” even when he corrects them, expect him to play basketball and lump him with the other black students from Brooklyn. They expect him to keep his head down during freshman hazing and turn his eyes away from other contradictions in rules and traditions. He becomes confused, hearing differing opinions from other black students on how to present himself to his white peers. More disturbingly, when Ant returns to Cleveland on holiday, he finds himself more of an outsider with his neighborhood, friends and family, unable to make the same connections he had before Belton.
As the year goes on, Ant finds himself in between worlds, not quite belonging in either, while he struggles to be himself.
Black Boy/White School tackles issues of identity, race relations and differing social structures with honesty and nuance. Walker’s characters are drawn from reality with dimensions and views that are authentically intertwined; one can see where resentment and racism stem and there are no clear solutions to obviously complicated problems. Black Boy/White School is a valuable piece of young adult literature that people of all backgrounds can reflect upon.
For ages 14 and older.