New Kid by Jerry Craft
This book was both a delight to read and a hard read as well. It is not so much because of the content or concepts, but because of the flow. Things seemed forced at times; the point is thrown at you more than once to get it across. Is this good or bad? That is up to the reader. Are these nice people? For the most part it does seem like people are good, even the ones who are a bit on the not-as-nice side. Is this a story that should be told? Yes. Is it the one you should base all your thoughts, feelings, and time with? Maybe. You see, I liked the experience, I liked the exposure, I liked finding this book. But I am not sure I liked the book. I am not sure if Character X should have done “that thing.” I am not sure if Character Y really would act that way. And was it needed to have that storyline? And maybe the characters needed to be fleshed out a tad more. I am wondering about them as individuals, not just the group school situation. There is potential. And there is a much going on that will allow for discussion and that is probably what draws me to this story. One of the pieces that I found interesting is the idea of a New Kid. Jordan is a New Kid in school. There are new kids in school. And finally in the end, (semi-spoiler) Jordan becomes a New Kid, taking pieces of Before Jordan and Now Jordan and leaving room for Next Jordan. I also liked the Chinese Food metaphor his grandfather gives. There is also a piece about how Jordan and his friend Drew assume something about white classmate, reversing the stereotypes and prejudices that have been aimed at them. These points are both humorously and strongly presented.
The art is strong, with a lighter tone to help keep things from going too dark (or above the comfort zone of the aimed reader: Ages 10 and up best ages, but all ages, with help, can enjoy and partake in). There are the right number of details, and they get the point across, and yet, are never crowded. The colors are both popping and a bit on the less popping side simultaneously (partly because it is an older book (published 2019) and a library book, so it has seen some use).
There is a lot going on and while it might not make my Top Ten Best Reads This Year list, it is on the Good List and one that I will not forget soon.
On a fun note, I knew there was a sequel to New Kid called Class ACT (which might answer some missing pieces for me) but in late April 2023 book three is due, School Trip.