Thursday, January 6, 2011

Review: Tutored

Title:  Tutored
Author:  Allison Whittenberg

     From GoodReads, "Wendy Anderson and Hakiam Powell are at opposite ends of the spectrum—the social spectrum, the financial spectrum, the opportunity spectrum, you name it. Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she’s always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn’t want her mingling with “those people.” In fact, all Wendy’s life, her father has told her how terrible “those people” are. He even objects to Wendy’s plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life.
Hakiam has never lived in one place for more than a couple of years. When he aged out of foster care in Ohio, he hopped a bus to Philly to start over, but now he’s broke, stuck taking care of his cousin’s premature baby for no pay, and finding it harder than ever to stay out of trouble. When he meets Wendy at the tutoring center, he thinks she’s an uppity snob—she can’t possibly understand his life. But as he gets to know her better, he sees a softer side. And eventually—much to the chagrin of Wendy’s father and Hakiam’s cousin—they begin a rocky, but ultimately enlightening, romance.
This edgy story about a star-crossed couple features strong African American characters and sparkles with smart, quirky dialogue and fresh observations on social pressures and black-on-black prejudice."

     I was really excited to read this book when it came because the description sounded really good and I loved the cover.  Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed by the book itself.  The main characters, Wendy and Hakiam, began by hating each other, but you knew, as a reader, that the relationship would change.  It was how the relationship changed that really stumped me.  It was as if one minute they hated each other and the next minute they were kissing and totally into one another.  There just wasn't a momentum change that made sense.  
     There were aspects of the book that I liked.  I didn't realize in my own naive world that their was racism within a community and this book did a great job of showing that racism exists everywhere.  I was especially upset with Wendy's father.  He was a very domineering personality and it was interesting to see how Wendy challenged his value systems in her own way.  
    There were similarities between this book and Jane Austen's novel, Pride and Prejudice, but if you are looking for a contemporary twist on a classic, I would skip this book and try Prom and Prejudice instead.

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