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What Lane?

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  891 ratings  ·  213 reviews
"STAY IN YOUR LANE." Stephen doesn't want to hear that--he wants to have no lane.

Anything his friends can do, Stephen should be able to do too, right? So when they dare each other to sneak into an abandoned building, he doesn't think it's his lane, but he goes. Here's the thing, though: Can he do everything his friends can? Lately, he's not so sure. As a mixed kid, he
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published April 14th 2020 by Nancy Paulsen Books
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Average rating 4.17  · 
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 ·  891 ratings  ·  213 reviews

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Karina Blackburn
Jun 15, 2020 rated it liked it
I understand why people like this book. I think that this book is a good one to read when trying to begin a conversation with children about race, prejudice, racism, and even police brutality. This book also brings up the topic of white allyship. The page count and easy language lends itself to being more accessible to reluctant readers, and having Stephen as the POV character also gives boys (black or otherwise) someone that they can latch onto easily.

However, there are things in this book that
Kate Olson
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aoc, middle-grade
A very short and relatively simple middle grade story that is 100% a strong “message” book about race and growing up a black male in NYC. The sweet spot for this is 5th-7th grades.
Lorie Barber
Nov 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg-fiction
First, I am beyond grateful to Nancy Paulsen for sharing an early copy of this book with our reading group. I feel so lucky to be one of the first to absorb the story.

If I could give WHAT LANE? infinite stars, I would.

Three words to describe this book?

Torrey Maldonado does more to tackle racism in a 126-page middle-grade novel than I’ve ever seen. And he writes in a way that is relatable to kids of all races. WHAT LANE? is both affirming to kids of color and the s
Christina Carter
Note: Review of Advance Readers Copy - Book releases 5/2020

Twelve-year-old Stephen can't be pigeonholed into any one lane. He is more than the Black kid who hangs out with his white friends watching Into the Spiderverse or Stranger Things, the same kid who sometimes also hangs with his Black friends but never the two groups at the same time. He's more than the biracial kid whose mom sees him as mixed while the rest of the world only sees him as Black. He's more than someone's son, adored by his
Aug 24, 2020 rated it it was ok
I read this as an audiobook, narrated by the author. The voices he does for different characters were distracting to me, but it wasn't a bad production, and could be a great option for some readers.

First, the pros of this book: despite the characters being 6th graders, this book skews WAY younger. Think beginning chapter book readers. It discusses difficult topics (Black Lives Matter, Tamir Rice and other victims of police violence, racial profiling by cops, retail workers, and neighbors, microa
Ms. Yingling
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
E ARC provided by Edelweiss

Stephen lives in Brooklyn with his father, a Black teacher, and his mother, a white librarian. He hangs out a lot with his neighbor Dan, and has started to notice that when the two are out in public, people will gave Stephen a hard time for things that Dan is doing, too, but never speak to him. This could be when the two are in a store or slap boxing in the street. When Stephen talks to his parents about these growing microaggressions, his father wants him to know the
Laura Gardner
Jun 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️/5 for this INCREDIBLE slim MG book about a Black biracial boy learning about #BlackLivesMatter and examining his own identity.
It’s only 148 pages, but is a powerful read perfect for ages 9-13. WHAT LANE would be a great choice for a classroom read aloud or book club. There’s a lot to unpack here and many of the same arguments we are hearing about in the press play out in this book like all lives matter vs. black lives matter and the myth of being “color blind.”
This is book 94/
Thank you Torrey Maldonado and Nancy Paulsen Books for sharing What Lane? with the LitReviewCrew in exchange for an honest review!

This book is what my library, and many libraries and homes, need. Here are 3 things I loved:
1-Finding yourself
2-Racially divided world
3-Short, but deep read

I hope you read and enjoy!
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: mg, anti-racism
One of the most powerful signs at a Black Lives Matter protest near me was held by a small Black boy and read, "When do I go from cute to dangerous?" I stopped in my tracks seeing it, immediately thinking of my 7 year old's best friend since many years left does he have of coos of "He's so adorable!" from white lady passersby, rather than them clutching their purses more tightly or crossing the street? How many more years does this kind, good boy get to play his violin, smile with ...more
Jul 01, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A powerful, engaging story about the everyday racism Black kids experience, what it means to be an ally, and what it means to be anti-racist. Torrey Maldonado writes accessible and engaging books that make kids think and feel deeply, and this is a perfect middle grade novel for this moment. It packs a punch in only 126 pages, which makes it a great pick for read-alouds, book groups, and kids who are turned off by longer books.
Amanda Rawson Hill
Oct 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent discussion starter and also nice and short. Really perfect for middle schoolers.
Ro Menendez
Being a librarian gifts me the ability to build relationships with my elementary readers that span multiple years. I have come to expect with trepidation the abrupt transformation many 4th graders go through over the summer. They come back to school as 5th graders, with a new outlook on decision making, one that I cannot comprehend. I’ve tried talking, walking them through their previous choices for as long as we’ve known each other, but it has been difficult for them to put into words what exac ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it liked it
NOTE: I received an ARC at the OLA Superconference. What Lane? is due out in May.

Stephen want to belong in every "lane", or behaviour norms, but he is realizing that being black, the racism around him does influence his behaviour. He finds himself on a journey to understand his own lane, as well as to educate his friends about their lanes and their influences.

The writing style of What Lane? makes for a very quick middle grade read. There isn't anything inappropriate for younger audiences, but I
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Nancy Paulsen for an ARC of this book for #bookportage. I really wanted to read this story after loving the author's previous book, TIGHT, and once again he has amazes me with how much he can say in such a short amount of space.

This is an important story for its focus on racial injustice, and how Stephan sees he can't do the same things that his friends do without fear of repercussions they'll never understand. It's an eye-opening story for many readers who are oblivious to the rac
Stacey DeCotis (Reading in the Middle Grades)
Thank you @torreymaldonado & @penguinkids for sharing #WhatLane with #bookexcursion This book needs to be in every middle grade library and tackles racism in a way that readers will feel the discomfort of what Stephen goes through or see themselves in him.

Stephen, 12, is half black, half white and is starting to see the prejudice and racism directed towards him that his white friendships don’t face. His black father lovingly prepares him with advice like “think twice before you act once” and “f
Melissa Thom
Nov 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
This story is an important one that needs to be told and read by both children and adults! Another great title to add to middle grade book lists and a possible project lit title!?! Thank you Torrey for sharing your talents with the world and adding perspective to what it is like growing up between multiple (and unequal) worlds.
Cassie Thomas
Dec 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love how Torrey writes for kids right now. This book will be so loved and well read.
Gailanne Smith
May 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
More and more young people are becoming aware of the ugly prejudices around them, but even so, many don't see the microaggressions that are prevalent in our society, nor the internal racism that many people act upon when they see someone of color. Often they may not even realize they are having these thoughts or feelings. What Lane? focuses on a young man with an African-American dad and white mom,  who is becoming more and more aware of the big and small differences in his treatment by others b ...more
Shaye Miller
Apr 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a biracial kid, Stephen is confronted with the fact that he’s living in two worlds. However, he doesn’t fully fit into either one the way he wants to. While his friends are sometimes blind to the realities, he’s hit, head on, by social injustices and the very real understanding of white privilege. And he tried, many times, to figure out which “lane” he belongs in. The best summary of this book can be found in this quote:

“I need to wake up more of my white friends so they see prejudice is real
Karen McKenna
Aug 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
As other reviewers have mentioned, the length and writing style make this a very accessible book for middle grade readers. It is a great introduction to the idea that your skin color affects how you are treated in the world, and what it means to truly be an ally. As Stephen grappled with growing up and having the world look at him as a Black man and not a boy, his eyes are opened to the microaggressions directed toward him, police brutality against people his age or barely older, and the Black L ...more
Samantha Neeb
May 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book right from the beginning! Thanks #NetGalley and Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin) for the ARC, even though I read it after it was published, oops! I will definitely be recommending this book for purchase at the library!

What lane? Who's lane do you want to be in or not be in?
It book makes such a good example of showing the importance of friends and choices at such a pivotal time in life.

Apr 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Racism isn’t quiet. It isn’t pretty or hidden. It’s right in front of us, more for some than others. This book brings light to a serious issue that plagues our society to this day. Thank you Torrey for writing about it—giving it a face for our students to see. They are the future that can help change our world. #weneeddiversebooks
Mary Lee
May 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Must read.

This comes as close to "The Talk" for White kids about white privilege, about what the Black experience is, and how Whites can be aware of the Black Experience and be allies. All inside a good story.

Must read.

(Also, Torrey Maldonado does the audio. I haven't listened, but probably a must listen.)
Torrey Maldonado's new book is a great pick for middle grade readers struggling to figure out how they fit into the world. Biracial and Black readers will empathize with Stephen's struggles and celebrate his successes. Recommended.

Read more at Bookish Adventures.
Eden Bryann
Jun 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
It was a fast paced read. It dives into white privilege and BLM. It think it’s a great book for middle grades. It will definitely get some conversations going. The characters are relatable. I just wish it was longer! It hooked me in and then left me hanging at the end.
Jun 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This short middle grade book had so much to say about growing up as a black youth during the middle school years when prejudices from other people really begin to show. The message was a bit stronger than the character development and writing but this is a still a great book to read and share.
Dec 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was a really good book about a mixed race sixth grader trying to figure out why some white people were so nasty to him. Learned about it from a session about disrupting the canon at the NCTE virtual conference.
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
WHAT LANE? is excellent. It is short, timely, and has an authentic voice. I wish the ending had been a little less abrupt, but I think this is going to be super popular with middle schoolers. Highly recommend.
Phil Jensen
Sep 26, 2020 marked it as notes-on-unfinished-books
Only read about 10 pages. I enjoyed their enthusiasm for Spider-Man, but the slang felt really forced and I cringed hard enough to put the book down.
Kris Patrick
Oct 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I didn’t plan to read What Lane? But it keeps popping up in my Twitter feed. And then I see that five people I follow on Goodreads gave it five stars. Hmmmm.
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