In her first novel, Ramée explores the concept that fear can stop you from doing the right thing. Shayla is a shy, bright middle-school student who deals with unwanted advances from boys, racial tensions, academic competition, and finding her own voice. Middle school is quite an adjustment for Shayla and her friends, a diverse trio dubbed "the United Nations," but she decides to stand up for the rights of African Americans after a ruling is made in a controversial court case involving the shooting of a black man by a white police officer. Encouraged by her sister and peers, she joins the Black Lives Matter movement and passes out black armbands at school, an act that puts her at odds with her friends, principal, and students of different races. As civil unrest spreads, Shayla must determine whether creating awareness by causing trouble is worth risking her academic standing. This is a solid story for middle-schoolers dealing with issues such as friendship across racial lines, being strong girls, #BLM, #MeToo, civil rights, diversity, and justice. Grades 5-8. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Twelve-year-old Shay's palms itch when she senses trouble coming, and this year, they seem to be itching more than ever. She and her elementary school besties had dubbed themselves "the United Nations"—Isabella is Puerto Rican, Julia is Japanese-American, and Shay is African-American—but everyone begins moving in different directions as junior high begins. Julia is hanging out more with the Asian girls from her basketball team, and Isabella attracts Shay's crush when she gets her braces off, leaving Shay jealous. In addition, Shay's sister, Hana, critiques her for not having black friends, something that Shay isn't sure matters. Meanwhile, in their city of Los Angeles, tensions are high over the trial of a police officer who shot an unarmed black man. When the officer is set free, and Shay goes with her family to a silent protest, she starts to see that some trouble is worth making. Ramée effectively portrays the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement and the difficulty of navigating complex social situations while conveying universal middle school questions about friendship, first crushes, and identity. Shay's journey is an authentic and engaging political and personal awakening. Ages 8–12. (Mar.)
Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly.
School Library Journal Reviews
Gr 4–8—Twelve-year-old Shayla is just starting middle school. She and her friends, Isabella and Julia, aka "The United Nations" because of their diverse backgrounds, want to stick together just like they did in elementary school. They soon discover that middle school is different and conflicts with friends and crushes ensue. In the midst of the typical middle school angst, a not guilty VERDICT in a legal case concerning a police officer shooting an African American man is announced and Shayla begins to relate to the Black Lives Matter movement in a way she never has before. Shayla, always trouble-averse, ends up challenging her school's administration when black armbands are banned. She grows through the experience and becomes more comfortable in her own skin. The author does a beautiful job illustrating the pain a family goes through in the wake of such a ruling. Reminiscent in writing style to works by Lauren Myracle and Jason Reynolds, this novel starts by showing Shayla having typical middle school problems, then switches to the very specific problems she faces as a young black girl in America. There is also a powerful subplot concerning Shayla's changing perception of her lab partner, Bernard, an African American boy, who she sees as a bully at the beginning of the novel and slowly comes to see as having been boxed into that role by systemic bias. VERDICT Give this to middle grade readers who aren't yet ready for Angie Thomas's The Hate U Give. Highly recommended.—Kristin Lee Anderson, Jackson County Library Services, OR
Copyright 2019 School Library Journal.
After attending a powerful protest, Shayla starts wearing an armband to school to support the Black Lives Matter movement, but when the school gives her an ultimatum, she is forced to choose between her education and her identity. - (Baker & Taylor)
Strictly following the rules to pursue her junior-high ambitions, 12-year-old Shayla is forced to choose between her education and her identity when her sister joins the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of a powerful protest. A first novel. 60,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook. - (Baker & Taylor)
From debut author Lisa Moore Ramée comes this funny and big-hearted debut middle grade novel about friendship, family, and standing up for what&;s right, perfect for fans of Angie Thomas&;s The Hate U Give and the novels of Renée Watson and Jason Reynolds.
Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she&;d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it&;s like all the rules have changed. Now she&;s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she&;s not black enough. Wait, what?
Shay&;s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that&;s trouble, for real.
"Tensions are high over the trial of a police officer who shot an unarmed Black man. When the officer is set free, and Shay goes with her family to a silent protest, she starts to see that some trouble is worth making." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")