The Beautiful Struggle

Delacorte. Jan. 2021. 176p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781984894021.
Gr 9 Up–In 2008, Coates published a memoir that focused on the lessons his father, Paul Coates, imparted throughout his life. Now, more than a decade later, this young adult adaptation emerges to reinvigorate the messages of Black pride, neighborhoods, and relationship dynamics. Rich conversations that reflect on Paul drive the narrative. Coates weaves in and out of his upbringing in Baltimore, Paul’s interests in African culture that led to his work in publishing and with organizations like the Black Panther Party, and the upbringing of his children. The absence of dialogue cues may frustrate readers who are unaccustomed to this fluid style because, without breaks in the text, the pages are dense. However, the rhythmic stream of consciousness will appeal to focused, skilled readers who want to learn about Paul’s experiences from the 1960s and 1970s and how his worldview molded his son, who was surrounded by the richness of education and the importance of reading. This paternal bond shines in every chapter.
VERDICT While there has been an attempt to make this more accessible to a younger audience, the writing in the original is far stronger.

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