A Good Kind of Trouble

Book review by Barbara Saunders, Common Sense Media
A Good Kind of Trouble Poster Image

Common Sense says

age 8+

Girl learns to be brave in triumphant coming-of-age tale.

Parents say

age 10+

Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 10+

Based on 8 reviews

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Community Reviews

age 13+

Subplot is Disturbing

This story is about a 12-year old girl named Shayla who spends seventh grade learning more about and becoming more aware of the the Black Lives Matter movement. The main theme of the story is Shayla's developing understanding of herself, her multiracial friends and the importance of standing up for what she believes, from a racial standpoint. That part of the book is very good. However, there is subplot of a boy named Tyler who has a crush on Shayla. He is boundary inappropriate, repeatedly touching her and invading her space, even though she tells him not to and pulls away. She is repeatedly pressured by her friends to "be nice to Tyler" and pushed away from trusting her own instincts about the boy. At Shayla's middle school the kids play a game called "Command" where any child can be commanded to do anything. At a dance Tyler is "commanded" to kiss Shayla. Despite her saying she is not playing the game, Tyler kisses (or as the books says "smothers") Shayla - against her will. Immediately after the forced kiss, one of Shayla's friends demands to know "why didn't you say no." Shayla is embarrassed, made to feel uncomfortable, unable to say no to this boy when he decides they are "talking" (what they call dating in the book) The subplot has Shayla taking full responsibility for the kiss. Even though it was against her will. Even though it was forced. While there is one brief scene where Shayla finally stands up to Tyler, the author never really addresses the issue of consent (or a lack of consent) in the story. And the author undermines any empowerment Shayla may get in the story by having Shayla conclude that she will "never let anyone kiss me without permission again." But Shayla did not "let" Tyler kiss her. He just did it. It was an assault. Tyler is described as a puppy and in gentle terms, even though he is an aggressor. After Shayla finally stands up to Tyler, she is accosted in a bathroom by three girls for daring to "break Tyler's heart." Parents should know this story has multiple threats of physical violence – that have nothing to do with the BLM storyline (“pounding” kids who won’t follow a command, “dogpiling” Shayla in the bathroom), and an insidious secondary story line of sexual harassment. It reinforces the narrative that girls are responsible for placating boys and protecting boys feelings and that girls just have to put up with unwanted touching by boys.
1 person found this helpful.
age 8+
Shay's sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum. Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that's trouble, for real.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models

Book Details

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