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With a new boyfriend, her own room (finally!), and a modeling agency trying to convince her to sign with them, Charmaine Upshaw's life is just about perfect. But a surprising face appears at the dinner table: ex-con Uncle E. Uncle E skipped town a few months ago after Charmaine's parents put up $1000 bail, leaving them in a bind that forced her mom to go back to work. Mom and Dad seem happy to see Uncle E, and her little live-in cousin Tracy John thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread. But Charmaine is not fooled. Meanwhile, Charmaine struggles in her first romance and ponders the idea of taking Hollywood by storm. Does she have what it takes to see her name in lights? Only if she can survive the 10th grade. . . .From the Hardcover edition.
Life is not fine for Samara Tuttle, but she's coping. Her overworked mother is distant and cold, and her mother's boyfriend, Q, attacks Samara when she tries to clean up after his lazy, Funyun-loving self. Samara's a loner. But all of this changes when Mr. Halbrook arrives at school. Samara's English teacher takes ill, and in steps Mr. Jerome Halbrook, a suitwearing, blue-eyed African American man who uses Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" to inspire a spirited discussion about poetry, love, and truth. Soon Samara is borrowing his collections of poetry, and then she can't stop thinking about Mr. Halbrook. Soon Samara is confiding in him about her less-than-fine past, and dreaming of a different future. But when Mr. Halbrook disappears-and it appears that he may not be all that he seemed-will she be able to picture a future without him? From the Hardcover edition.
Growing up in Philadelphia in 1975, 14-year-old Charmaine Upshaw is obsessed with justice. Unfortunately, she gets none of it in her life: not from her parents, who make her share a room with her tap-dancing brother Leo; not at school, where light-skinned, Barbie-doll-haired Dinah Coverdale steals all the boys' attention and makes sure dark-skinned Charmaine knows it; and certainly not from Tracy John, her six-year-old cousin who's taken over the family. When Charmaine is charged with babysitting her spoiled cousin after school, that's the last straw-something's gotta give. And when Charmaine cracks, she starts to see the world in a whole new light. Can Charmaine learn to love herself, her mahogany skin, and her attention-starved little cousin? Sometimes when everything falls apart, putting it back together can help you see the truth. From the Hardcover edition.
Wendy Anderson and Hakiam Powell are at opposite ends of the spectrum-the social spectrum, the financial spectrum, the opportunity spectrum, you name it. Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she's always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn't want her mingling with "those people. " In fact, all Wendy's life, her father has told her how terrible "those people" are. He even objects to Wendy's plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life. Hakiam has never lived in one place for more than a couple of years. When he aged out of foster care in Ohio, he hopped a bus to Philly to start over, but now he's broke, stuck taking care of his cousin's premature baby for no pay, and finding it harder than ever to stay out of trouble. When he meets Wendy at the tutoring center, he thinks she's an uppity snob-she can't possibly understand his life. But as he gets to know her better, he sees a softer side. And eventually-much to the chagrin of Wendy's father and Hakiam's cousin-they begin a rocky, but ultimately enlightening, romance. This edgy story about a star-crossed couple features strong African American characters and sparkles with smart, quirky dialogue and fresh observations on social pressures and black-on-black prejudice. From the Hardcover edition.
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