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I not only loved this book, I needed this book. Through the earnest, layered, and relatable voice of Shayla, Ramee depicts the complicated life of a 12-year-old today. Shayla's life is full of trouble: fracturing friendships, miscommunications with boys and crushes, a mom who lays down the law, and a new identity as an athlete on her school's track team. Centered in all of this is Shayla's growing awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement and the importance of not being silent when justice crumbles. I'm astounded at how much Ramee packs into this novel. It's full of humour and heart. It's both hard and hopeful. It's giving me a way in to discussions with family members who are around Shayla's age. I highly recommend this to anyone with young people in their lives. And anyone at all, really. The voice within is spectacular and watching Shayla grow into herself will make you cheer.
I adored this book. It has everything I want in a middle grade novel. The characters are relatable and believably thirteen, and there is humour and heart. I really related to Shayla's aversion to rule breaking and her anxiety, and I think a lot of kids reading this will too.
The author also manages to touch on some potentially difficult issues, but does it in a really natural and organic way that feels right for the story. This is a good story, but it is also an important one.
I also loved how culturally specific the author portrayed all the main characters, especially Shayla's best friends Jules and Isabella. Their experienes as Japanese American and Puerto Rican aren't glossed over but are portrayed with sensitivity and humour.
An excellent middle grade novel. Can't recommend it enough!
5.0 out of 5 starsThis Book Should Be In Every Classroom
Reviewed in the United States on April 2, 2019
Lisa Ramee's poignant debut is a pitch perfect contemporary middle grade--reading it threw me back into the high drama of fragmenting friendships, cliques, innocent seventh grade boy problems, and Moms who draw the line at twelve year olds wearing makeup. Ramee nails the fraught nature of standing up and standing out when you're in seventh grade, along with the difficulties of negotiating mixed signals, missed cues, and misinterpretations of other people's behavior. Reading A Good Kind of Trouble, you can't help but be entirely immersed in what it feels like to be 12.
But the real beating heart of this novel is Shay's budding awareness of social responsibility and political activism, and her sweet, heartfelt struggles to understand and articulate her feelings, her boundaries, and her needs clearly. As the Black Lives Matter movement gathers steam in her community, Shay is beginning to fully understand some painful realities about the world, and the way those realities can cause stresses in the community and even in the most solid of friendships. This beautiful story is so honest about the frictions and difficulties and hard choices Shay has to make. You'll cry, cheer, and applaud her courage and newfound maturity. I would seriously recommend this book for every middle grade reader and classroom. It's important and timely and hopeful and very, very moving.
5.0 out of 5 starsTimely yet classic, a perfect book to start important conversations
Reviewed in the United States on April 4, 2019
Lisa Ramee's debut has been hailed as "the Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry for this generation," and that praise is well-earned. This middle grade book deals with race, acceptance, friendship, and identity in a pitch perfect, delightfully readable way.
Shayla hates trouble so much, it makes her hands itch. But when another unarmed black man is shot by police, Shayla wants to do *something.* So she starts wearing a Black Lives Matter arm band to school. She's not protesting. She's not rallying others to the cause. She just wants to show her belief that being Black is important and valuable. But to some, Shayla isn't Black enough. And to others, she's suddenly too Black. Where does she fit in? Even her closest friendships are starting to unravel, and Shayla isn't sure what to do.
With prose so clear and precise, you feel you're actually talking with 12 year olds in the best possible way, A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE is a warm, funny, thoughtful, and deeply important book. Kids will love it, and adults will value its insightful discussion of race, racial politics, and belonging. HIGHLY recommended for all classrooms and school libraries!
A beautifully written, important book that follows Shayla as she navigates a new school, changing friendships, and becoming more aware of the injustices of the world. Through it all, she is supported by her incredible family. I love the nuances of the characters, the middle grade-appropriate depiction of the harsh realities Black people face, and Shayla's courageous way of standing up for what she believes, even if it causes trouble. A must-read!