I literally just finished reading Brian F. Walker’s Black Boy White School and I cannot wait to share it with someone, anyone. Anthony “Ant” Jones is given a scholarship to an elite prep school in Boston. Leaving his East Cleveland neighborhood he struggles with the realization that he may never fit in with either world.
Ant’s struggles with fitting in seem so familiar. Readers will relate to the struggle Ant has of growing and become a different person while trying to remain true to himself. The book begins with a glimpse of Ant’s life in Cleveland, his friends and learning of being accepted to the school. Here we learn that Ant struggles with wanting better than where he is but also worrying about whether the school will be something he can accept.
Once Ant arrives at Belton, he struggles to fit in. He wants to play by the rules but notices that the rules are not the same as in his handbook. Befriending the handful of Black students, Ant sees that he must play a role in order to fit in but he struggles. Should he follow the advice of the George, a fellow Black student and star of the basketball team, or should he rebel and confront the injustice he feels?
When he returns home during breaks he sees that he is beginning to grow from the neighborhood he comes from but is unsure of where he belongs.
This book encouraged me to ask myself what matters? Is it the education and opportunity one may get from an elite school? Is it being confident and comfortable in who you are and how the world sees you? Is it getting along for the sake of getting along in order to survive?
There is a subplot in the book about Somali refugees that seemed to highlight Ant’s increasing discomfort with his place at school. Tension rises as the small town the Belton school is located becomes populated with Somali’s. Tension within Ant rises as he tries to figure the process to help him succeed as a student.
This was a quick read; I finished this within a few days. I think anyone who may have felt like an outsider will enjoy this book.
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Learn more about the author, Brian F Walker.