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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. With only 125 pages it is accessible to ALL readers.
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 “fires don’t put out fires, be chill to cool things off” so Stephen can face the truth about how others can perceive him as a growing black boy. Powerful read with real events that prove injustices exist, tackled in such a way that Middle Grade & Middle School readers will build empathy. I cannot wait for my students to read this one and am recommending it to any adult/kid who wants to know better & do better.
As a school librarian, I have the unique pleasure of enjoying a significant variety and volume of great books and then sharing my passion for them with my students. I just finished What Lane? and have to say, this is a heartwarming story of the heartbreaking times we are living in, and ALL kids should read this book. I cannot wait to get this book in the hands of my students for my summer virtual book club, as I know they will be rooting for Stephen, a young man of mixed race who is growing up and processing the fact that kids of his complexion are still not fully equally valued in society. Stephen is incredibly relatable, and Maldonado’s choice of having Stephen as narrator heightens this relatability.
Think this book is too much for your white tween or teen to handle? Think again. Your white children will cheer Stephen on as he learns more about himself, his world, and which lanes he wants to pursue in life, and they will find a role model in Dan, a young white man who learns what it means to be a true ally for his friend. Think this book is too much for your Black or Brown child? No way. Kids of color will find a role model in Stephen as he comes of age and learns how to protect himself and love himself in a world of prejudice that does not yet completely love him back. A solid choice for any kid, but exceptional for reluctant readers because of its slim length. Think a middle-grade Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give that shines in its own light, too.
(Also, the audiobook is outstanding, too! I read and listened to each separately and enjoyed them both.)
My daughter's fifth-grade class was assigned this text. In a word, the book is ridiculous. How it has received such high reviews is astounding. No child should be forced to read this nonsense. Not only is the grammar atrocious, but the book is replete with stereotypes and racist tropes. The main character's dialogue consists of broken English and slang. The Black father of the main character only speaks "properly" when he is mocking the boy's white mother. There are nods to BLM, and the clear narrative is that police are racist, the shop owners are racist; basically, anyone in authority is racist. Don't waste your time or money.
I am a teacher and mom that organizes a book club for middle school readers. I was looking for a book that would spark conversation about friendship, peer pressure, being an ally, microaggression, anti-racism, and racial equality. After reading What Lane?, I knew it was the perfect novel to get into the hands of my book club readers.
Maldonado writes in a way that middle schoolers can relate to and understand. He uses pop culture references and writes as if he remembers exactly what is was like to be and think like a middle schooler. Readers will be wondering how Stephen handles the tricky and turbulent road of hanging with his peers. They will be rooting for him to see which friends are honest and true. Maldonado’s books engage a diversity of readers and brings middle school book talks to life!
And, right now What Lane? is the book you want your readers talking about during such a critical time to engage young minds in these conversations. What Lane? gives middle grade readers that opportunity. I highly recommend it for all classroom and home libraries.
Torrey GETS KIDS!!!! He writes in a way that draws kids in. He relates to them so they can understand current events, and how those events apply to and impact them. This was a quick read for me as a teacher, but packed with so much to think about. It is a book that helps kids navigate their identities and what side of history they want to be on. I highly recommend this book to all people, but I think it’s most appropriate for 4th-8th grade readers. You won’t regret buying this book!
Torrey Maldonado continues to prove his writing artistry with his 3rd book What Lane?. Main character Stephen allows readers to view life from his perspective as he begins to experience, and confront, racial discrimination growing up as a biracial kid in his NY neighborhood. Torrey seamlessly weaves between the story of a kid trying to find himself and figuring out where he belongs with the larger and more difficult conversation of racial equality in America. This book is a must read for any kid, adult, or classroom.
This coming-of-age MG novel is a must-have for all school libraries, as well as classroom libraries. Stephen is bi-racial and starts to notice how people in his life treat him differently than his white friends. How can he be true to himself and know what lane to choose? Torrey Maldonado writes so succinctly, and his book is a great way to get the important, necessary conversations going in classrooms.
OMG. Torrey Maldonado wrote a brilliant story that is perfect for introducing BLM to students in elementary school. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all elementary school teachers and to all parents with children 8+ years old.