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Lu: Track, Book 4

Book review by
Terreece Clarke, Common Sense Media
Lu: Track, Book 4 Book Poster Image
Heartfelt ending to award-winning series on sports and life.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The novel does a great job explaining Lu's albinism and some of the side effects of his condition, including the effect on his eyes. The book also continues, like the others in the series before it, to show more about the sport of track. 

Positive Messages

Strong messages about the importance of teamwork and family. It's never too late to apologize and make amends. Don't live with the guilt and shame -- you can try to make things right and seek forgiveness. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lu is a wonderful role model as he works through his fears of the hurdles and a bully. While very confident, Lu examines what he does to cope with adversity, and in examining that he sees how the people around him have their own techniques. He challenges his father to right a serious wrong, challenges his teammates to put their differences aside in the spirit of family and decides whether to show compassion to a bully. The other team members prove to be positive influences on each other, and the adults in the novel balance honesty, encouragement, and supervision well.

Violence

An instance of fighting gets broken up before it gets too bad. Talk of bullying incidents having happened, though none described in the moment. An assumed danger at a street basketball game, though nothing happens. Mention of a an abusive man hurting a character and how he’s in jail now.  

Sex

A boy and girl "like" each other. A mother is pregnant, and there's talk of how they didn’t think she could have kids.

Language

Some name calling of an albino character like “cloud with eyeballs” and "bleached bleach." Another character is called Smellvin because he smells. 

Consumerism

Some discussion of clothing brands and the Olympics to set the scene. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A man dies of an overdose, but it's not shown. Another man is was a great athlete but got addicted to drugs and is still addicted. A third man used to sell drugs but has since turned his life around. 

What parents need to know

Parents meed to know that Lu: Track Book 4 is the last book in the critically acclaimed series by New York Times Bestselling author Jason Reynolds. The novel catches up with characters from the previous books in the series, but can be read independent of the series. Parents should be prepared to talk about what makes a family and team, the lure of drugs (particularly for athletes), and overcoming obstacles in sports and life. 

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What's the story?

In LU: TRACK, BOOK 4, Lu has swagger. He's a rock star track star, and now the co-captain of his track team. Lu is also an albino and has his own share of struggles, like his teammates Ghost, Patina, and Sunny. Gold chains, diamond earrings, and sunscreen are his armor. But as life on the track team evolves, Lu finds himself losing his armor bit by bit. When he discovers a terrible secret about his dad, he's angry enough to shed almost everything he uses to protect himself, but he gains so much more. Now the only question is whether the people in his life will take on their own closed-eyes leaps of faith. Will his dad man up like he teaches Lu to do? Will the Defenders win the championship? Will Lu conquer the hurdles? And what will he name his new baby sister? 

Is it any good?

Author Jason Reynolds wraps up an outstanding series with heart, class, and bravery, much like the students highlighted throughout the four installments. Lu: Track 4 earnestly tackles important issues like bullying, regrets, family, and going for gold. Readers familiar with the series will love the wrap-up of all of the individual previous stories, while new readers will want to seek out the other three books as they fall in love with the characters.

Reynolds really captures what it is to be a teen right now and is phenomenal at capturing teens from diverse backgrounds. There's compassion in the conflict, vulnerability in the swagger, and humanity in the adults who seek to guide the characters. Kids and parents alike will love that Reynolds doesn't do stereotypes. Each character has depth no matter their age.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how addiction affects the characters in Lu. Why do some athletes turn to drugs? 

  • How do teams become like families? And why is that important?

  • Did you find Lu a satisfying conclusion to the series? Why do you think book series are so popular? Does this series make you want to read other books by Jason Reynolds? 

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