This weekend I finished another novel from our SpineCrackers bookclub list, All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall, which is based on a true story. What a great book!
Set in an urban public school, the novel grabs your attention from the beginning largely in part because of its characters - James Harris III, Marcel, Rhondell, and Sharice. Mr. Collins, a high-school algebra teacher knows he is boring his students and that they are uninterested and unmotivated and so he has a meltdown of sorts. During this meltdown he realizes that he must do something to regain their attention, hence, a math club is born.
James Harris III is one of the most dynamic characters because he is the stereotypical black male who initially has an attitude and couldn't care less about school. His character undergoes some amazing transformations in the book. Willy Q, Marcel's dad is another endearing character - tough-acting owner of Willy Q's Barbeque, he has some soft spots that are very touching throughout the novel.
Another great quality of this novel is the math that is interwoven throughout. Tetrahedrons, being another of the star characters, really do connect with readers - math lovers or not. The students fold thousands of them to reach their goal. I know numerous math teachers who struggle finding literature to integrate into their classrooms - this is a fantastic choice!
The students overcome some obstacles individually and as a whole, deal with forming peer relationships, and are also tested in a various ways outside of school. This book is "real" and doesn't try to be something it is not. I think we have all had enough "Dangerous Minds" type movies and books, but this one does the subject justice without being too cliche and reiterates that not every story has a happy ending. (Don't be fooled, the ending is fantastic!)
If you are interested in math, have a young adult reader, or are just looking for a quick entertaining read, this would be a great choice!