Thursday, July 8, 2010

Riot by Walter Dean Myers

Riot by Walter Dean Myers EgmontUSA/September 22, 2009/Young Adult/160 pages
Summary During a long hot July in 1863, the worst race riots the United States has ever seen erupt in New York City. Earlier that year, desperate for more Union soldiers, President Abraham Lincoln instituted a draft–a draft that would allow the wealthy to escape serving in the army by paying a $300 waiver, more than a year’s income for the recent immigrant Irish. And on July 11, as the first drawing takes place in Lower Manhattan, the city of New York explodes in rage and fire. Fifteen-year-old Claire, the beloved daughter of a black father and Irish mother, finds herself torn between the two warring sides. Faced with the breakdown of the city–the home–she has loved, Claire must discover the strength and resilience to address the new world in which she finds herself, and to begin the hard journey of remaking herself and her identity. Review
I got this book for a book club discussion and 2 hours before I realized I had to be there, I quickly hurried up to read it. (Of course, once I got to the library, I found out that it was the next day.) Written as a play, RIOT is a fast paced and easy to read, considering it takes places in the 19th century. Although this is a short book, so many things happen and I find it even more amazing that it all takes places within 3-4 days. I enjoyed the beginning and how it starts with a scene from the present day, then sometime in the 20th century and finally to 1863. A horrible riot breaks out in in New York City and people everywhere are fighting. This is the first time the draft is used and the rich men pay the $300 (which would be equivalent to $4,000 today) to get out of it so they don't have to fight in the war. Myers writes about the prejudice that blacks faced and the impact on society. One problem that I had with the book was the voice of Claire. Now, I liked how Claire stood up about her ethnicity. Her mother was Irish and her father black. She could easily passed as white and she'd have to problems but she comes out and says she black even though that causes problems for her. My problem though was she was 15, yet I felt that she sounded like a 12 year old. I'm not sure if that was because of the time period or what.. I think this is my first Walter Dean Myers which is hard to believe, since he is amazing! Will have to read more of his books.
Writing: 5/5
Originality: /5
Characters: 4/5
Voice: 3.5/5
Ending: 4/5
Overall: 3.5 stars
Favorite character(s): Priscilla, who was Claire's best friend. I thought she was a strong character with lots of courage! Cover: B. I think the cover does
Put-down-ability: I read it straight through, so I'll say 1. But I don't think I would've read it all in one setting had it not been because I was in hurry to finish it, I don't know if I would've done that.
*Source: From public library.

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