Kinda Like Brothers
Think back to a time your life was in limbo. Maybe it was
something as usual as impending college graduation if you weren't sure
what kind of job you'd get or even moving up to that big intimidating
looking high school. Maybe it was more traumatic like divorce or
getting fired. But if you can think of a time when you couldn't be
sure things would work out okay in your life then you will be able to
relate to Jarrett, protagonist of Coe Booth's Kinda Like Brothers.
Jarret is stuck in summer school the summer after sixth grade.
He missed a lot of days during the year due to asthma
hospitalizations. Each time he returned a little further behind. A
lot of the work is difficult. If he doesn't pass an upcoming test
he'll repeat the year, separated from all his friends and the girl he
likes. In his mind that means he'll behind forever. He's overheard
his summer school teacher tell his principal he would benefit from
Jarrett's mother takes in foster babies as a temporary placement
until a caseworker can make more permanent arrangements. As the story
starts, a toddler arrives with a most unpleasant surprise: her older
brother, Kevon with whom Jarrett must share his room and his life. He
is to bring Kevon to the recreation center he goes after school and
introduce him as a friend of the family so the other kids won't know
the new boy is a foster kid. Jarrett feels his space has been
invaded. One day when he thinks he sees Kevon making a move on the
girl he has a crush on...
There are other uncertainties in Jarrett's life. His mother and
her boyfriend argue what his mom should be doing with her life. His
best friend comes back from a visit to his father subdued and
changed. He sees a rec center counselor, a college student, stopped
and frisked by the police and realizes that, as an inner city black
preteen, it's a matter of when, not if, this will happen to him.
Kinda Like Brothers is a gutsy, believable narrative about a boy
coming of age under very difficult and challenging circumstances.
It's a very good read for students coming up on middle school,
especially those who face their own challenges.
On a personal note, I can very much relate to Jarrett. I sometimes
wonder what I can do with my life if I can't get into graduate school
with the teaching assistantship I'll need to afford it. It's not as
if there are that many decent jobs in central Penobscot County for
people, even intelligent, talented people, unable to get that all
important valid driver's license. I've been looking for quite
awhile. I so much don't want to be doomed to retail or fast food.
But what if nothing else works out? It's really hard to have a
disability big enough to mess up my life but not big enough to warrant
A great big shout out goes out to all the other folks in transition.
Hang in there and try your best. That's all we can do.
Sent from my iPod