A Close Look at One Strong Girl by Jackie Mercer
Twelve-year-old Shayla is starting junior high, is allergic to trouble, and has a giant forehead she doesn’t want her crush, Jace, to notice. She knows seventh grade will be different, but Shayla has no idea what she’s in for. Lucky for her, she relies on her two best friends, Isabella and Julia, aka the United Nations, to get through.
That is, until everything starts to fall apart. Shayla finds herself stuck with Bernard, the class bully, as her lab partner. People start to accuse Shayla of not being “black enough” because of the diversity of her friend group. And just when she thinks things can’t get any worse, the United Nations falls apart as Julia finds new friends and Isabella catches the eye of Shayla’s crush.
At home, Shayla is able to escape her school problems, but there, she is exposed to the harsh realities of society. A white police officer is on trial for shooting and killing and unarmed black man. The trial is at the forefront of the family’s discussions as Shayla’s sister, Hana, is an active member of Black Lives Matter who, at times, questions Shayla’s loyalty to her own race. Although Shayla’s parents try to shield her from some of what is happening, they recognize the necessity of teaching her the realities of the situation for black people in America.
As Shayla deals with her day-to-day struggles, she also struggles to come to terms with living in a world where the color of her skin makes people feel threatened and puts her in danger. After attending a silent protest where she realizes that “Hundreds of people walking together carrying candles and signs but not saying one single word? Let me tell you, that’s louder than anything…That’s when I found out how loud silence can be” (208), she decides to stage her own silent protest by wearing and distributing black arm bands at school in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Shayla realizes that sometimes it is important to get into, as Civil Rights Activist and Congressman John Lewis calls it “Good trouble, necessary trouble” to change people’s hearts and minds.
Reading a book generates the reading of more books. After you pick up and read A Good Kind of Trouble, you might want to look at some of the books in the slide show below. These are books Jackie suggests are in the same vein as her selection. I have to say some of these are my (Steve's) favorites as well.
If you know some of those, but have picked up and read about Shayla, then some of your old favorites might encourage you to try it out.
Blended by Sharon Draper
Genesis Begins Again by Alicia D Williams
The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Dear Martin by Nic Stone
All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely
Until next week.