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“Black Brother, Black Brother” by Jewell Parker Rhodes

--Staff Picks Kids

Black Brother, Black Brother

Jewell Parker Rhodes
Published: 2020
Age Range: 8+
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Rachel read Black Brother, Black Brother and this is what she thought…

Donte and Trey, bi-racial brothers, attend Middlefield Prep where there is not much diversity. Donte is dubbed the “black brother” while Trey has fair skin and passes for white. Donte is harassed by other students and targeted by teachers, often getting in trouble for things he didn’t do. After being ridiculed in front of the whole school, Donte decides that he’s going to learn how to fence and beat his bully at his own sport.

The cover of this book made me stop and pick it up. I felt a mix of anger and joy while reading Black Brother, Black Brother. Anger for how Donte was treated. Anger for how he was made to feel less than. Joy for when he discovered that he truly loves fencing and for the friends / family he made on the way. My favorite element of this book was the family dynamic. The parents are loving and caring, and Donte and Trey are very close. The book’s main theme is racism. Donte is constantly targeted for his skin color. He’s harassed, bullied, and even has the cops called on him (simply for slamming his backpack on the floor). There’s discussion of the school to prison pipeline and systemic racism.

Who would you recommend this book to?

I think it’s an important story for all to read. It was excellent!