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The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)
Cover of The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)
The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)
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Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically,...
Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically,...
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  • Adapted from the adult memoir by the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Water Dancer and Between the World and Me, this father-son story explores how boys become men, and quite specifically, how Ta-Nehisi Coates became Ta-Nehisi Coates.
    As a child, Ta-Nehisi Coates was seen by his father, Paul, as too sensitive and lacking focus. Paul Coates was a Vietnam vet who'd been part of the Black Panthers and was dedicated to reading and publishing the history of African civilization. When it came to his sons, he was committed to raising proud Black men equipped to deal with a racist society, during a turbulent period in the collapsing city of Baltimore where they lived.
    Coates details with candor the challenges of dealing with his tough-love father, the influence of his mother, and the dynamics of his extended family, including his brother "Big Bill," who was on a very different path than Ta-Nehisi. Coates also tells of his family struggles at school and with girls, making this a timely story to which many readers will relate.

Excerpts-

  • From the book chapter 1
    There lived a little boy who was misled . . .
    When they caught us down on Charles Street, they were all that I'd heard. They did not wave banners, flash amulets or secret signs. Still, I could feel their awful name advancing out of the lore. They were remarkable. They sported the Stetsons of Hollis, but with no gold. They were shadow and rangy, like they could three-­piece you—­jab, uppercut, jab—­from a block away. They had no eyes. They shrieked and jeered, urged themselves on, danced wildly, chanted Rock and Roll is here to stay. When Murphy Homes closed in on us, the moon ducked behind its black cloak and Fell's Point dilettantes shuffled in boots. In those days, Baltimore was factional, segmented into crews who took their names from their local civic associations. Walbrook Junction ran everything, until they met North and Pulaski, who, craven and honorless, would punk you right in front your girl.
    It was their numbers that tipped me off—­no one else rolled this deep. We were surrounded by six to eight, but up and down the street, packs of them took up different corners. I was spaced-­out as usual, lost in the Caves of Chaos and the magic of Optimus Prime's vanishing trailer. It took time for me to get clear. Big Bill made them a block away, grew tense, but I did not understand, even after they touched my older brother with a right cross so awkward I thought it was a greeting.
    I didn't catch on till his arms were pumping the wind. Bill was out. Murphy Homes turned to me.
    Above all the factions, Murphy Homes waved the scepter. The scale of their banditry made them mythical. Wherever they walked—­Old Town, Shake & Bake, the harbor—­they busted knees and melted faces. Across the land, the name rang out: Murphy Homes beat brothers with gas nozzles. Murphy Homes split backs and poured in salt. Murphy Homes moved with one eye, flew out on bat wings, performed dark rites atop Druid Hill.
    I tried to follow Bill, but they cut me off. A goblin stepped out from the pack—­
    Hey, you going somewhere?
    —­and stunned me with a straight right. About that time my Converse turned to cleats and I bolted, leaving dents and divots in the concrete. The streetlights flickered, waved as I broke ankles, blew by, and when the bandits reached to check me, I left only imagination and air. I doubled back to Lexington Market. There was no sign of Bill. I reached for a pay phone.
    Dad, we got banked.
    Okay, son, find an adult. Stand next to an adult.
    I'm in front of Lexington Market. I lost Bill.
    Son, I'm on the way.
    I went to stand near a man about Dad's age waiting at a bus stop, like age could shield me. He looked over at me unfazed and then back across the streets at the growing fray of frenzied youth.
    I know that Dad and Ma saved me, pulled up in their silver Rabbit, sometime after I made the call; that Dad ran off into the swarming night to find his eldest son, and for the first and only time, I was afraid for him. I know that Bill's mother, Linda, swooped down to the harbor and found Bill first, shuttled him back out to their crib in Jamestown. I know that Bill returned to Tioga days later, and when I told him how I'd dusted Murphy Homes, how I was on some Kid Flash level, he was incredulous—­
    Fool, they let you get away so they could chase me.
    We lived in a row house in the slope of Tioga Parkway in West Baltimore. There was a small kitchen, three bedrooms, and three bathrooms—­but only one that anybody ever wanted to use. All of us slept upstairs. My folks in a modest master. My two sisters, Kris and Kell, when back from Howard University,...

About the Author-

  • Ta-Nehisi Coates is the author of The Water Dancer, The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. Ta-Nehisi lives in New York City with his wife and son. Visit him online at Ta-NehisiCoates.com and @tanehisipcoates on Instagram.

Reviews-

  • Booklist

    January 1, 2021
    Grades 9-12 Adapted from his New York Times-bestselling adult memoir, this title Coates' childhood and adolescence, focusing on his relationship with his father, Paul, and the impact of that relationship on his worldview. Through the lens of Paul, a ""Conscious Man,"" it would never be enough for Ta-Nehisi to be average, especially not growing up a Black boy in West Baltimore. Chronicling the lessons, joys, failures, and ultimately growth in his childhood and adolescence, Coates explores his experiences and understanding of what it meant for him to come into manhood while simultaneously offering sociocultural contextualization of the history of the crack-cocaine epidemic, the emergence of conscious hip hop, and the school-to-prison pipeline. This title would be a great read for parent and child bonding, but it would also make a great leisure read for the young person who finds solace in understanding the diversity of humanity of those around them. Included in the front pages is a map of Baltimore, which signals the various places the Coates family called home, in addition to a family tree showing the lineage of his clan.

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    March 1, 2021

    Gr 9 Up-In 2008, Coates published a memoir that focused on the lessons his father, Paul Coates, imparted throughout his life. Now, more than a decade later, this young adult adaptation emerges to reinvigorate the messages of Black pride, neighborhoods, and relationship dynamics. Rich conversations that reflect on Paul drive the narrative. Coates weaves in and out of his upbringing in Baltimore, Paul's interests in African culture that led to his work in publishing and with organizations like the Black Panther Party, and the upbringing of his children. The absence of dialogue cues may frustrate readers who are unaccustomed to this fluid style because, without breaks in the text, the pages are dense. However, the rhythmic stream of consciousness will appeal to focused, skilled readers who want to learn about Paul's experiences from the 1960s and 1970s and how his worldview molded his son, who was surrounded by the richness of education and the importance of reading. This paternal bond shines in every chapter. VERDICT While there has been an attempt to make this more accessible to a younger audience, the writing in the original is far stronger.-Alicia Abdul, Albany H.S., NY

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Random House Children's Books
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The Beautiful Struggle (Adapted for Young Adults)
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