Class Act reminded me of The Hate U Give, in that we have a protagonist who is attending a school with predominantly white, privileged classmates. Our main characters are Drew and Jordan (Jordan was the focus on Craft’s previous book in this universe, New Kid) as they deal with being scholarship student eighth graders at Riverdale Academy.
But what’s this story about, you ask? From Goodreads: “Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying “You have to work twice as hard to be just as good.” His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn’t afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted? To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it’s hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn’t know how to keep the group together. As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?”
While you do not need to read New Kid to read Class Act (I didn’t) it would have been helpful in getting the lay of the land at Riverdale and the various friendships the for the core of the book. This one is a 3.5 rounded up for me. There were some pacing issues in the middle. But Jerry Craft adds a lovely layer of specificity in the neighborhood, pulling from his personal history in Harlem and Washington Heights. The sections showing Jordan’s original comics also did a nice job of letting the reader into the mind of our protagonist and helping to spell out some things for the younger readers.
Bingo Square: Politics. This book’s challenges and bans are political in nature – fears that it would teach the bogeyman of Critical Race Theory to children.