Take Back the Block by Chrystal D. Giles

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

Take Back the Block: Giles, Chrystal D.: 9780593175170: Amazon.com: Books

Summary:  Wes loves his neighborhood of Kensington Oaks, surrounded by friends, neighbors, and his social-activist parents.  When a developer offers to buy the houses in the Oaks, it seems as though his community is going to go the way of other gentrified neighborhoods in the city.  As friends start moving away, Wes gets increasingly determined to find a way to save the Oaks.  A social studies project unexpectedly gives him a possible way to fight the developers, but he’ll need the help of his whole community to make it happen.  240 pages; grades 3-7.

Pros:  Wes’s funny, distinctive voice provides a great narrative to explore the issues of gentrification, Black history, and racial profiling.  Along with all the social justice storylines is a good dose of middle school life, friendship ups and downs, and a budding romance.

Cons:  Wes’s friend Kari had an interesting story, but the resolution felt a little rushed.

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