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Black Brother, Black Brother

Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes

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Black Brother, Black Brother Review

Family / Home Stories Featured Books for 11+ readers Featured Books for 13+ readers Gritty Reads School Stories Sporting Stories Star Books Personal Social Health Economic (PSHE)

Two brothers, two colours, one powerful story about proving racist haters wrong

At once hard-hitting and heart-stirring, Black Brother, Black Brother confirms Jewell Parker Rhodes as an exceptional writer whose work resonates with authenticity, empathy, and powerful truths about race and equality.

 

One of the few black boys at his prestigious school, 7th grader Donte has a hard time of it, to say the least. “I wish I were invisible…Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming in whiteness. Most of the students at Middlefield Prep don’t look like me. They don’t like me either.” He’s singled out by teachers, and subjected to racist bullying by his classmates: “You dress thug”. “Your dreads are dreadful.” “Why can’t you be like your brother?” “Can your brother find you in the dark?” The brother in question is Trey, who presents as white and, as a result, occupies a very different place in the world. As Donte is arrested - for nothing - he experiences (yet again) that “Black is not invisible”. So, he resolves to get his own back on the student who got him in trouble, and the best way to do that is to beat the boy at his own game - fencing.

 

Donte’s first-person narrative is pitch-perfect and incredibly powerful, and the brothers’ family life is beautifully portrayed too. Their dad is a computer architect whose family were “poor seafarers from Norway”. Their mom is a social justice lawyer whose family is “descended from captured Africans.” But despite the love and support of his brother and parents, Donte’s loneliness is powerfully palpable, especially when he’s suspended. This makes his determination to track down and learn from an African American Olympian fencer all the more moving, all the more inspiring. What an incredible tale of triumph and fortitude this is.

 

Mention must also be made of the author’s afterword, in which she lays bare historic and cultural prejudices against darker skin, the falsehood of black/white categories, and her fascinating reasons for featuring fencing.

Joanne Owen

Black Brother, Black Brother Synopsis

A powerful coming-of-age story about two brothers - one who presents as white, the other as Black - and the ways they are forced to navigate a world that doesn't treat them equally.

Donte wishes he were invisible. As one of the few black boys at his school, he feels as if he is constantly swimming in whiteness. Most of the students don't look like him. They don't like him either. Dubbed the 'Black Brother', Donte's teachers and classmates make it clear they wish he were more like his lighter skinned brother, Trey. When an incident with a white student leads to Donte's arrest and suspension, he's sure the only way to get even is to beat the student at the school's most valued game: fencing.

With the help of a former Olympic fencer, Donte embarks on a journey to carve out a spot on the school's fencing team and to find a way to make people at school see past the colour of his skin to who he really is.

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781510109865
Publication date: 13/05/2021
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781510109865
Publication date: 13th May 2021
Author: Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publisher: Orion Children's Books an imprint of Hachette Children's Group
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 240 pages
Suitable for: 11+ readers, 13+ readers
Genres: Family / Home Stories, Gritty Reads, School Stories, Sporting Stories, Personal Social Health Economic
Recommendations: Reluctant Readers, Star Books
Collections: Summer Reading 2021,

About Jewell Parker Rhodes

Jewell Parker Rhodes grew up in Pennsylvania. She is an author of adult and children's books, a Coretta Scott King Honour award-winner, and a professor of creative writing at Arizona State University. She currently lives in San Jose.

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