Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Review: The Skin I'm In (Sharon G. Flake)

Title: The Skin I'm In
Author: Sharon G. Flake
Genre: YA fiction
Pages: 197
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Challenges: PoC
FTC Disclosure: I borrowed this book from my school's library (but I read it before I added it to the collection!)
Summary (from the back of the book): Maleeka suffers every day from the taunts of the other kids in her class. If they're not getting at her about her homemade clothes or her good grades, it's about her dark skin. When a new teacher, whose face is blotched with a startling white patch, shows up at their school, Maleeka can see there is bound to be trouble for her, too. But the new teacher's attitude surprises Maleeka. Miss Saunders loves the skin she's in. Can Maleeka learn to do the same?

Review: I didn't really know much about this book before I read it today except that a student at school requested we get it for our library and that it won a Corretta Scott King Award. This is a quick read and one that both boys and girls can relate to, I'd say middle grades up through high school.

Maleeka is very dark skinned and gets teased about it by everyone. Add to that she is tall and gangly. Aren't the teen years just fantastic? Of course, people can't just feel awkward about themselves, they've got to put others down to make themselves feel better. How sad. And Maleeka is getting a fist full of it. She is smart, but her grades are failing. She hangs out with nasty girls who treat her horribly. Then comes Ms. Saunders who also has a physical "issue". With tough love and support it feels like she starts to get through to Maleeka.

Although this is a quick and fairly easy read it packs a powerful punch. It deals with racism (within a group, if that makes sense), a shared history of kids who grow up together, bullying, the role of both adults and teens in making the right choices, the impact one person can have on another, and more. It will really make you think, which is so fantastic in a book! What I like best is that everything isn't fixed by the end, but the reader can see that there is hope for Maleeka and her education, her self-worth, and more.
Geography Connection
There was no mention of where this book took place, so no geography connection this time.
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