Not an Easy Win

Book review by Mary Krawczyk, Common Sense Media
A Black boy looks out from the cover, his shirt and background colors are in purple and pink hues and there are silhouettes of chess pieces in the foreground.

Common Sense says

age 10+

Middle-schooler finds chess, community in powerful story.

Parents say

age 9+

Based on 1 review

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Community Reviews

age 9+

Excellent realistic fiction for middle grades

Chrystal Giles 2nd middle grade novel is just as terrific as TAKE BACK THE BLOCK. She doesn’t sugar coat the lives and flaws of her characters but does allow them to learn and change things for the better. Lawrence can’t seem to control his temper, and while he does have to deal with a school filled with white faces that don’t seem to want him there, fighting gets him expelled and stuck at his Granny’s house with nothing to do but get in her way. When his attempt at getting out of her way results in his neighbor, Mr. Dennis, taking him to the area rec center, Lawrence discovers friends and a purpose—to play chess well enough to earn a spot competing at a big tournament. Simple summary, but far more detailed and complicated changes happen not only in Lawrence’s life but in the life of his grandmother and a foe-turned-friend named Deuce. Readers who live in more affluent areas will take a turn at walking in the shoes of those who struggle to put food on the table. Those who are fortunate enough to attend schools with somewhat equal representation of people or ones that do not display blatant prejudice will hopefully get a sense of the reality that many face day in and day out. All students may be inspired to try something new (maybe even chess!) or to reach out to a classmate they have not usually interacted with. Excellent choice for those in grades 4-7. Text is free of profanity and sexual content and while Lawrence is expelled for fighting, there are no detailed fight scenes. Cast of characters is primarily Black.

This title has:

Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

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