February 13th, 2021 by Karen
In 2020, our country lost an amazing hero, Congressman and civil rights leader John Lewis. One of his most famous quotes is: “Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.” But sometimes it’s easier said than done. We may know the importance of raising our voices and fighting for racial justice, but sometimes we can doubt ourselves, especially in instances where our friends, family, teachers, or neighbors disagree. In A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée, the main character struggles with whether — and how — to speak up for what she believes in.
Shayla is already having a tough time navigating junior high to begin with. She and her BFFs, Julia and Isabella, have always been a tight trio. They even call themselves “the United Nations” because Shayla is African-American, Julia is Japanese-American, and Isabella is Puerto Rican — yet they are a united force, three besties against the world. But junior high has changed everything. All of a sudden, Julia is ditching them to hang out with another group. Plus, Isabella is catching the eye of Shayla’s crush!
On top of all that friend drama, Shayla is also upset by the police violence that she sees on the news. Her older sister is active in the Black Lives Matter movement, but Shayla has always been a stickler for following the rules and staying out of trouble. Also, she doesn’t see why race should be such a big deal. For example, why do her Black classmates judge her for hanging out with Isabella and Julia instead of spending time with them? Why do things have to be so complicated?
Soon, however, Shayla finds that she can’t ignore the racial injustice in her community. And the more she learns, the more she wants to take action. But what difference can she make — especially when her principal warns her against certain forms of protest at school? Shayla has to decide if she’s willing to get into trouble for taking a stand.
I would recommend this book for everyone, since there are so many parallels to real life and to news of police brutality that you may have discussed with your family or at school. Or this book may echo some of your own personal experiences and dilemmas. I’d especially recommend this book if you liked Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado, You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino, or Strange Birds by Celia C. Pérez.
Have you already read A Good Kind of Trouble? Or do you have another book to recommend, where the characters also advocate for their beliefs and their community? Leave a comment below!
Karen absolutely loves the cover art for this book. Like Shayla, she used to have various pins on her backpack when she was in school. And also a rubber chicken keychain that she attached to the zipper! Why? Who knows?