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The Boys Club

Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature


Wendy Rountree

The Boys Club: Male Protagonists in Contemporary African American Young Adult Literature is a study of prominent issues and themes such as education, identity, and racism in contemporary (i.e., post-Civil Rights era) young adult novels written primarily for African American boys by African American men and women writers. Representative works by writers Candy Dawson Boyd, Curtis Paul Curtis, Sharon G. Flake, Kenji Jasper, Kekla Magoon, Williams McDaniels, Walter Dean Meyers, and Jacqueline Woodson are analyzed. Ultimately, this book illustrates how men and women writers of young adult literature for African American boys reveal and validate the difficulties of growing up young, Black, and male in modern-day American society, and thereby seek to improve the lives of their readers.


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Acknowledgments vii Introduction 1 Chapter 1 Defining Manhood: The Function of Violence in Kenji Jasper’s dark and Sharon G. Flake’s Bang! 15 Chapter 2 Where Have All the Fathers Gone?: Searching for Identi- ty in Jacqueline Woodson’s Miracle’s Boys 35 Chapter 3 It’s in the Way You Play the Game: African American Boys and Basketball in William McDaniels’ Abdul and the Designer Tennis Shoes and Walter Dean Myers’ Game 43 Chapter 4 Are You Gonna Teach Me Something?: African Ameri- can Boys and the Classroom in Candy Dawson Boyd’s Chevrolet Saturdays 65 Chapter 5 Depicting Romantic Relationships in Walter Dean Myers’ Motown and Didi and Jacqueline Woodson’s If You Come Softly 77 Chapter 6 Looking Back, Looking Forward: The Role of the Past In Christopher Paul Curtis’ Bud, Not Buddy and Kekla Magoon’s The Rock and the River 93 Conclusion 117 Notes 119 Works Cited 127 Index 131 vii

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