by Binns, Barbara

For fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander, a poignant and timely novel about race, class, and second chances.

Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling to keep the family afloat. So when he’s offered a spot on a prestigious diving team at the local private swim club, he knows that joining would only add another bill to the pile.

But T studies hard and never gets into trouble, so he thinks his mom might be willing to bear the cost… until he finds out that his older brother, Lamont, is getting released early from prison.

Luckily, T’Shawn is given a scholarship, and he can put all his frustration into diving practices. But when criminal activity increases in the neighborhood and people begin to suspect Lamont, T’Shawn begins to worry that maybe his brother hasn’t left his criminal past behind after all.

And he struggles to hold on to the hope that they can put the broken pieces of their damaged relationship back together.

On the cusp of turning 13, an African-American youngster discovers a passion for an unusual sport and confronts a major change in his family.T'Shawn, a pretty good swimmer, discovers at a local pool that he likes diving off the diving board—and that there is a club where he can learn more. It's very expensive, though. His mother works hard, but there are huge bills left over from his father's illness before he died. Then his mother announces that his older brother, Lamont, is about to be released from prison and will be living with them. The brothers' relationship, once close, suffered due to Lamont's gang involvement, and his return is difficult. Although T'Shawn receives assistance that allows him to join the diving club, it is watching his brother for signs he might be returning to his old life that consumes him—and he even joins a community movement to get Lamont removed from the neighborhood. In this middle-grade debut, Binns depicts many issues facing urban youth, some with more success than others. Readers follow T'Shawn as he witnesses police brutality, copes with a well-meaning teacher, helps a friend with sickle cell disease, supports another friend grieving the loss of her mother to domestic violence, and more. The cast is multicultural, which adds to the story landscape, as do strong depictions of African-American men. A solid addition with a multifaceted look at the urban experience. (Fiction. 8-12) Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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