Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon

Seventeen-year-old Antonio pleads guilty to his abusive father’s murder; whether he did it or not is unclear, but he’ll still have to serve ten years for it.  Natasha, Antonio’s girlfriend, swears she’ll wait for him.  But ten years is a long time, and while Natasha is getting ready to go to college and explore the world, Antonio is stuck in a four-by-ten room.  Upstate allows the reader to see how two intertwined lives can go in complete different directions over the course of ten years.  The entire narrative of the book is wonderfully done in correspondence between Natasha and Antonio.  The letters between the two at first come almost daily and eventually devolve to a handful a year.  Did Antonio really kill his father? Where will Natasha be when Antonio is finally released? Upstate is a great independent read for fans of Paul Volponi’s Riker’s High and Walter Dean Myers’ Lockdown. --Claudio Leon

Teachers and book club facilitators may want to check out Macmillian's teacher guide to upstate here.
Buckhanon, Kalisha. Upstate. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2005. Print.

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