“Told in nine voices and interspersed with poetry, Grimes stuns in this companion novel to Bronx Masquerade. The next iteration of teens in Mr. Ward’s class are learning how to write poetry, rhyme, and flow, all the while opening up to each other about their various struggles. . . . Aptly describes inner-city problems, from police discrimination to gangs, but the teens are the focal point of the novel. . . . Grimes excels at making the students multidimensional and complex. This diverse cast’s strong inner conflict will enhance any bookshelf.”—Booklist
“Grimes adroitly orchestrates a chorus of emotional teenage voices in this thought-provoking companion to the Coretta Scott King Award–winning Bronx Masquerade. . . . While underscoring the difficulties these teens face, Grimes’s economical writing provides glimmers of hope, showing how forming bonds of trust and finding the courage to speak one’s truth can help ease emotional pain and bring salvation.”—Publishers Weekly
“These complex students use poetry to find their truest voices and write their own stories. . . . Each character occupies his or her own space and no one character or voice monopolizes the story. The narratives of immigrants, foster children, families effected by incarceration, and teens taxed with familial burdens are thoroughly explored in a thought-provoking way. The poems and voices are a perfect blend of the many facets of American teens’ lives. An excellent companion book that lends itself easily to a teacher’s poetry unit, this is great choice for school and public libraries.”—School Library Journal
“In this companion to Grimes’s Bronx Masquerade, which again mixes students’ first-person narratives and their forays into poetry, Mr. Ward’s class becomes a cast of many players, each student given a voice among the multiple points of views woven throughout the story. . . . This group of students, all with different life stories, bonds over the power of words and comes together. . . . In her author’s note, Grimes highlights her character Jenesis, who has been in the foster care system all her life and is about to age out; Grimes offers help and resources for vulnerable teens in similar situations.”—The Horn Book
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