Monday, October 17, 2011

Response by Paul Volponi

With one brutal swing of a baseball bat, Noah Jackson’s life is changed forever. Having headed over the town line into nearly all-white Hillsboro to boost a car, Noah ends up the victim of a vicious, racist trio of teens. Now he has a chance to turn his life around and stand for something bigger than a quick payday. What will be Noah’s response?

Volponi’s short novel is a fast, accessible read, that works hard to ground the concept of a hate crime in relatable life experience. While some of the characters are flat and lack the nuance that would make Response a revelation, it is nonetheless an engaging read that leaves the reader hungry for more. Fans of Walter Dean Myers and Sharon Draper will enjoy this book, but students who are eager for grittier novels, such as Tyrell or Ten Mile River, may be left unsatisfied. Educators may find Response a useful companion piece for a unit seeking to address hate crimes in a modern, urban context. --Regan Schwartz

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