Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tutored by Allison Whittenberg

Tutored by Allison Whittenberg

Two African American teens living two totally different lives cross paths in a GED center.  Hakiam wants a better life, he is unemployed, uneducated and down on his luck, living a day to day existence with the help of his cousin Leesa, who has a newborn baby.  Hakiam is two steps away from being homeless because Leesa is erratic.  Wendy is a star student living in an almost all white suburb and is tutoring teens in the "bad" part of town, much to her father's chagrin.  She wants to attend a traditional all black college but her father is against it.  Wendy only has one friend at school and feels separated from her true identity.

When Hakiam and Wendy meet, their distaste for each other is evident.  They constantly annoy each and yet an invisible force draws them together.  Opposites attract and eventually an awkward romance develops between them.

Wendy and Hakiam are fairly stereotypical versions of the African American teen at opposite ends of the social class system.  As a teacher in a urban school, I see kids who are versions of Wendy and Hakiam everyday.  Some kids struggle more than others regardless of race.

I love the cover art on this book and while the book is called Tutored, their is not much traditional tutoring going on in the book.  The tutoring is actually real world advice, like how to get a job and take care of a newborn baby, to how to study and deal with your parents.  Tutored has an interesting storyline with characters you care about and want to succeed so they can find their way in the world.  I believe most teens would enjoy this book and recognize the value of what we can learn from each other if only we take the time to listen.