Sunday, January 22, 2006

Black and White

Volponi, Paul. 2005. BLACK AND WHITE. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670060062 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

“Eddie gave me a nod, and I nodded right back. I didn’t even know the man was black until we walked up to him, and Eddie told him it was a stickup.” This one decision forever changes the lives of two high school students. Marcus Brown and Eddie Russo known collectively as “Black and White” decide to rob people to pay for their senior activities, but things turn out differently when the victim identifies Marcus as one of the assailants. Will the police prove that Eddie was the shooter or will Marcus give up on his best friend?

In alternating chapters told in first person narratives, the young men describe the days after the event while waiting for the police to find them. The author portrays the characters with authenticity which provides nonstop and intense action both on and off the basketball court. Marcus becomes the tragic hero by taking responsibility for his actions while Eddie denies any involvement and accepts a scholarship to attend college. Issues of race and economic class are raised throughout the novel. Eddie’s parents have the financial capability to assist their son where Marcus’s mom has to accept the trial lawyer assigned by the court. . As stated within the novel, “There was nothing between us now, except for the line that separates black and white.” The two teens struggle with guilt and obligations to their parents, the victims, and ultimately each other. Although the language is harsh at times, readers will follow Marcus and Eddie and ponder the choices that were made by the teens.

Readers could roleplay the characters in the story to get a sense of what it was like to be Eddie and Marcus. If you were Eddie’s sister Rose, what would you do about the situation? Teens can discuss the alternatives.

Other books about interracial relationships, basketball, and justice:
De La Pena, Matt. BALL DON’T LIE ISBN 0385732325
Sitomer, Alan Lawrence. THE HOOPSTER ISBN 0786854839

By Aundrea L. Wright

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