(20)The Courage to Speak Your Truth

Title: Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
Publisher: Speak
167 Pages
Genre: YA

Synopsis: Something's going on. Something more than a high school poetry assignment. Kids are taking a look, leaning in close, asking why or how. Wesley Boone, writing a poem for Mr. Ward's class and actually wanting to read it aloud, poetry slam style. Lupe Algarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, looking for an outlet for her anger after her mother OD's. One by one, eighteen voices speak up, show themselves to the world and deal with the consequences. Through the poetry they share and the stories they tell, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.

Review: What a wonderful and powerful book.  Every other chapter tells the tale of one of the kids in Mr. Ward's class, how they feel inside and how people seem to see them.  After each persons story you get to read their poem that they read to the class.  As the book progresses you see how the Open Mike poetry readings are making students realize that you have to look beyond the surface to see the real person underneath.  Like an inner city Breakfast club this book breaks down stereotypes.  The angry girl whose mother OD'ed.  The jock who likes to read poetry, the light skinned girl who doesn't want to stand out and just wants to be considered black.  Mr. Ward's Open Mike poetry sessions help students see whats underneath the surface and learn to be more accepting.  Fabulous book!