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Project Girl

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  162 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
Selected by The Los Angeles Times Book Review as one of the best books of the year, Project Girl is the powerful account of a young woman's struggle to realize her dreams while remaining true to who she was before attending Ivy League schools and receiving impressive diplomas. It tells of the spectacular failures and unlikely comebacks of a ghetto kid whose academic talent ...more
Paperback, 231 pages
Published October 10th 2000 by University of California Press (first published 1999)
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Oct 01, 2015 Crista rated it liked it
I originally gave this book two stars because when I was finished, I was annoyed about some things and disappointed in the moment. After discussing the book at our book club meeting, I realized I took more from the book and liked more of the story then I was annoyed. Thanks Elaine for pointing out how my reactions meant I did take more from it! And again, great pick!
Nov 18, 2014 Yitka rated it liked it
An interesting book to have read immediately following 'The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace,' both stories of Ivy-League-bound young people from the projects. Many common themes, albeit wholly different trajectories and outcomes ... both which demonstrate vividly just how deep the divide in "the American experience" is, even for those are able to cross boundaries in class, race and socioeconomic status.

'Project Girl' offered a fascinating glimpse into McDonald's mind as she navigated betwe
Dec 04, 2009 Seven rated it liked it
This is one of the books I just pick out in the library wasnt even looking for this book. I happen to see if on the shelf and its soooooooo good.
Jul 10, 2012 Sheila rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
Read this over ten years ago and still think about it sometimes.
David Lucander
I read this hoping to adopt it in my Intro to Multicultural Studies course, but it's not what expected. That doesn't mean it's a bad book. In fact, read in tandem with The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League, this would be a really great way to start some important conversations.

The good - a poignantly written and inspiring memoir about being the one who makes it. Struggling in a neighborhood that transition from "working poor" to just
Mary Strasner
Aug 28, 2014 Mary Strasner rated it liked it
I heard the author speak on NPR about being black. In US, it's black first and American second. In Paris, it was the other way around. Project Girl – McDonald’s debut was a memoir about her days as a bookish teen Brooklynite. Hard hitting and real, the book covers her heroin use, her love affair with Paris and life while being Black in the Ivy League world of Vassar and Columbia University.

Spellbound – McDonald’s YA fiction debut about a sixteen year old, teen mom who sees a spelling bee as her
Oct 29, 2015 Claire rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book bothered me for so many reasons. I don't want to voice many of them because I'm sure it will come off as racist, however here's what I will say. Janet's dad had the right mentality when it came to living in the projects. Get a job. Don't live off of welfare. Better yourself. But many of the next generation did exactly the opposite.

I admired Janet for her hard work and intelligence. I despised some of her thoughts that held her back. She had issues with Vassar because she didn't want t
A brilliant memoir as Janet McDonald chronicles how she grew up in one of New York's worst neighborhoods and ends up becoming a lawyer in Paris. Along the way we get a cross-section of period and experience the problems of straddling two worlds and never feeling a part of either. A brilliant writer who perfectly articulates the issues she faces. My only slight critique would be that for about 100 pages she switches to journal entries which feels jarring in the context of the rest of the book.

Jan 10, 2010 RYCJ rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-keepers
...warmed my heart when I got to the part when Janet tells her mother, "I'm sorry. I feel like I let the family down," to hear her mother turn around and say, "maybe the family let you down." Very touching, albeit, I waited before prematurely applauding, which a lengthy review shortened (there honestly is so much in here)... but in her mother I saw a gem, and Janet (like others who've paved a way their way) is a trailblazer for those in her family coming behind her! Great Work!
Aug 12, 2014 Melanie rated it liked it
Couldn't decide between two or three stars. A different book. So hard for me to relate to this African American girl who came from the projects and attended Ivy League schools, etc. the book prompts a lot of questions and discussion on race and social issues.. Read it for a book club so it should be a good discussion!
Marcelette Smith
the title is misleading, it really encourages you to be able to go through any obstacle in life & not to make the same mistakes.
Nov 28, 2007 N.T. rated it it was amazing
This book hit me deeply on a personal level with many aspects that were all too familiar. Authentic, gritty writing that came to life...
Jan 25, 2009 liz rated it really liked it
This was a quick read and offered a personal take on identity issues in contemporary America. I came to really like the author, and enjoyed reading her story.
Sep 13, 2014 Mike rated it really liked it
Not the tour de force I'd been led to expect, but still very enjoyable, with a good deal of insight into the tensions McDonald experienced moving across multiple identity boundaries simultaneously.
Apr 02, 2007 elisabeth rated it really liked it
This was an excellent book about a black girl struggling through the oppression of Brooklyn projects, to raise herself from the depths to become a lawyer. I really like memoirs.
Aug 19, 2007 Barbara rated it liked it
This is an interesting memoir which is not very well written but is still worth reading. It is about a black girl from the projects, and it offers a very interesting perspective.
Oct 09, 2014 Eliakestrel rated it it was ok
I started out rooting for her; and by the end was really hoping she'd stop getting more chances and just fail.
Jessica rated it liked it
Jul 31, 2008
Laura rated it really liked it
Jun 27, 2008
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Oct 10, 2012
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Aug 06, 2011
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Jul 11, 2012
Keisha Ke
Keisha Ke rated it it was amazing
Dec 01, 2012
Lauren rated it it was ok
Jul 26, 2015
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Dahven white rated it liked it
Jul 29, 2009
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Jul 12, 2013
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Jul 30, 2010
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Janet McDonald was an American writer of young adult novels as well as the author of 'Project Girl', a memoir about her early life in the Brooklyn projects and struggle to achieve an Ivy League education. Her best known children's book is Spellbound, which tells the story of a teenaged mother who wins a spelling competition and a college scholarship. The book was named as the American Library Asso ...more
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