STANDING AGAINST THE WIND, by Traci L. Jones
Interest Level: Middle/Upper Grades
This is a story of perseverance and how it’s possible to use intelligence and tenacity to pull oneself out of even the darkest place. Patrice Williams is a thirteen year old girl who has been raised by her grandmother in the south until her mother forces her to move to the projects of Chicago—only to wind up in jail after eight weeks, forcing Patrice to move in with her aunt and children. They live in a run-down apartment building and Patrice is bullied and picked on until Monty, the leader of a group of tough boys takes a liking to her and defends her. She begins to tutor his younger brother and they form a strong friendship. The majority of the book centers on Patrice applying for a scholarship to a prestigious African American preparatory school in Mississippi—the biggest issue is getting her mother’s signature on the application—because her mother is in prison, and Patrice doesn’t have the means to get to her—until Monty steps in and saves the day. In the end, Patrice is awarded the scholarship, and the reader is left wanting to know the rest of Patrice’s story.