February 19, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Patina by Jason Reynolds | SLJ Review

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redstarREYNOLDS, Jason. Patina. 240p. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Bks. Aug. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781481450188.

Gr 5-8 –Twelve-year-old Patina Jones not only loves to run, she needs to run—and win. She’s a gifted athlete, and since the death of her father and her mother’s life-altering health problems, Patty’s track club has become the focal point of her life. Running helps her to navigate the changes she and her younger sister, Maddy, are experiencing. They have left their urban neighborhood to live in a different part of the city with their uncle Tony (who is black like Patty and Maddy) and their aunt Emily (who is white) and attend a new school, Chester Academy. In this follow-up to Ghost, the award-winning author continues to display his mastery of voice. Patty’s observations about her new classmates are pointed: “a whole bunch of rich girls whose daddies own stuff.” Over time, Patty begins to understand that her success depends on teamwork. Her changing views are sparked by two collaborative projects. One is based on the life of Frida Kahlo. Working with classmates, about whom she had formed erroneous assumptions, gives her opportunities to widen her perspective. The second and more central catalyst is being selected as a member of the 4×800 relay on her elite track team. With the encouragement of her loving family and supportive coaches, Patty ultimately becomes the anchor of her team, both on and off the track. Patty’s story is an invitation to grapple with the need to belong, socioeconomic status, and the dangers of jumping to conclusions. VERDICT This “second leg” of Reynolds’s series is as satisfying as its predecessor and a winning story on its own.–Shelley Sommer, Inly School, Scituate, MA

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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