Alicia Neely's Reviews > Black and White

Black and White by Paul Volponi
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's review
Mar 27, 08

bookshelves: reluctant-reader
Read in February, 2008

** spoiler alert ** Reference information:
Title Black and White
Author Paul Volponi
Publisher Penguin Group Year 2005
# of pages 185 Genre Fiction
Reading level Interest level Grade 9-11
Potential hot lava:
• racial issues and slurs
• robbery
• violence
• obscene language

General response/reaction:
I think this book is amazing for teenage boys. It would really keep the interest of all teen boys, especially if they are into basketball and other sports. Black and White has real issues that teenagers living in urban areas. Also, this book has lower vocabulary usage, so students who do not have as high of reading levels, will still be able to enjoy this book.

Subjects, Themes, and Big Ideas:
The books main theme is friendship because the two main characters overcome many personal obstacles and stay friends throughout. The boys come from very different worlds and we always asked to choose between each other or their worlds, but the boys never choose because they want both. In the end, Eddie and Marcus have been through more than most teenage guys ever will, but are still as close as ever.

• Marcus is a black, all-star basketball player at the local high school. He grew up in the projects and his life style had been decided from the day he was born. After overcoming many obstacles, he ended up where everyone thought he would because of a series of unfortunate events.
• Eddie is a white, all-star basketball player. He was right beside Marcus throughout all these obstacles; however, Marcus does not put Eddie’s name out there. Since Marcus keeps his mouth shut Eddie gets the chance to play college basketball and leave Marcus by himself.
Plot summary:
Marcus is black. Eddie is white. Growing up in two different worlds, they are thrown together by their love of basketball. The boys become inseparable, even when it comes to getting in trouble. Senior dues are due and Marcus doesn’t have the money to pay, so Eddie comes up with the idea to rob people in the mall parking lot, but just until they have enough money to pay the dues. After the first two robberies and the dues are paid for, the boys are addicted to stickups. The last stickup goes wrong, with the gun accidentally going off. Eddie was the one that was carrying the gun and shot the man during the robbery. In the end, Marcus will not tell the police who his accomplice was, so Marcus goes to jail, while Eddie gets off scot free and goes on to play basketball for St. Paul University.

Strengths (including reviews and awards):
• ALA Best Book for Young Adults
• ALA Quick Pick Top Ten
• Winner of the IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult Fiction)
• New York Public Library Book for Teen Agers

Drawbacks or other cautions:
This book contains very offensive language and situations. Also, racial slurs and situations are used throughout the novel.

Teaching ideas:

• Discussion Questions:
o Five years after the novel’s conclusion, how do you think Marcus’s and Eddie’s lives turn out? Where will they be? What will they be doing? Will they still be friends? Whose relationship will be close; Marcus and Eddie, Eddie and Rose, or Rose and Marcus?
o How do Marcus’s and Eddie’s reactions to the film The Count of Monte Cristo reflect what is going on in the book?
o If Eddie had been the one identified by the shooting victim, do you think he would have remained quiet about his identity, like Marcus did?
• Eddie has to write an essay about how he thinks people will remember him. How do you think your peers will remember you?
• Rose visits Marcus in jail, bringing a letter from Eddie. Eddie is in the middle of his freshman year basketball season at St. Paul and Marcus has been in jail for nearly a year. What does the letter say?

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