Reviews for Miracle's Boys


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 February 2000
Gr. 6^-10. Lafayette, 12, tells his family story in a voice that's funny, smart, and troubled. It's a story of poverty and grief, of family secrets and brotherly love. Lafayette's oldest brother, Ty'ree, has given up hope of college so that he can work and raise Lafayette and their middle brother, Charlie, who robbed a local candy store two years ago and has returned home from the correctional facility an angry stranger. Charlie is now in trouble again; this time it's a gang fight. With the boys always is the absence of their beloved mother and the guilt, blame, and sorrow they all feel and incite in one another. Mama is too saintly a figure, at least in her three sons' soft-glowing sorrowful memories, but the fast-paced narrative is physically immediate, and the dialogue is alive with anger and heartbreak, "brother to brother to brother." As in Walter Dean Myers' novel 145th Street , the city block in the story is hard and dangerous--and it is home. ((Reviewed February 15, 2000)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2000 Fall
This compelling novel about three African-American brothers is oddly reminiscent of S. E. Hinton's early novels, with its streetwise, self-sufficient orphans. Although there is little action in a story that is told almost entirely through dialogue and thirteen-year-old Lafayette's thoughts and memories, the narrator's voice maintains a tone of sweet melancholy that is likely to hold the attention of thoughtful young teens. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2000 #2
Even though it's been more than two years since his mother died, thirteen-year-old Lafayette continues to grieve by withdrawing into an inner world where he is haunted by his memories. Secretly he blames himself for his mother's death since he was the one to find her body after she sank into a diabetic coma. His twenty-two-year-old brother Ty'ree, mature and responsible, has some demons of his own: he witnessed the drowning death of their father before Lafayette was even born. These two brothers have learned to depend on each other for the emotional comfort that comes from predictable daily routines. Quite likely each would have worked through his private trauma at his own pace were it not for a third brother, Charlie, who, at age sixteen, has just returned from doing time at Rahway Home for Boys for an armed robbery he committed three years earlier. The challenge of living with this angry, hostile brother forces Ty'ree and Lafayette to open up to each other, so that they can finally work through their grief and figure out how to help Charlie survive. This compelling novel about contemporary African-American brothers living in New York City is oddly reminiscent of S. E. Hinton's early novels, with its streetwise, self-sufficient orphans who seek refuge in art films and self-examination. Although there is little action in a story that is told almost entirely through dialogue and Lafayette's innermost thoughts and memories, the narrator's voice maintains a tone of sweet melancholy that is likely to hold the attention of thoughtful young teens. And, like Hinton's novels, it may not be entirely credible, but it sure has heart. k.t.h. Copyright 2000 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2000 January #2
Another tale of the inner city that focuses on the real struggles of those live there, from Woodson (Lena, 1999, etc.). The Bailey boys are on their own: their father died from hypothermia after rescuing a woman and her dog from a frigid lake in Central Park, and their mother, Milagro, or Miracle, followed him in death when she could not afford the insulin she needed. Ty'ree, the oldest, has given up his dreams of college and a career in science and works full time in a publishing company mailroom so that he can feed and house himself and his brothers. Charlie, who was in a juvenile detention facility for armed robbery when his mother died and cannot ever forget it, is now home, but he is full of hatred and anger at the whole world, no longer the boy who once cried at the sight of a sick or injured animal. He directs some of his hatred at the youngest boy, Lafayette; between that and the devastation his mother's death, Lafayette finds that his world is in chaos. Readers will be caught up in this searing and gritty story of their struggle; Woodson composes a plot without easy answers, and creates characters for whom predictable behavior is all but impossible. A decent, involving novel about a family struggling to remain intact in spite of tremendous obstacles. (Fiction. 10-13) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 April #3
Once again, Woodson (If You Come Softly; From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun) reveals a keen understanding of the adolescent psyche via the narration of a winning seventh-grader. Lafayette, whose mother has recently died, is worried that some day he will be separated from his two older brothers: high-school-graduate Ty'ree, who gave up a scholarship to MIT to take care of his younger siblings; and Charlie, the rebellious middle boy, who, after spending more than two years in a correctional facility, has returned home cold and tough. (Lafayette calls him "Newcharlie," because his brother, with whom he was once so close, now seems unrecognizable to him.) Viewing household tensions and hardships through Lafayette's eyes, readers will come to realize each character's internal conflicts and recognize their desperate need to cling together as a family. The boys' loyalties to one another are tested during a cathartic climax, though it is resolved a bit too easily, and Lafayette's visions of his mother aren't fully developed or integrated into the plot. Gang violence and urban poverty play an integral part in this novel, but what readers will remember most is the brothers' deep-rooted affection for one another. An intelligently wrought, thought-provoking story. Ages 10-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2001 December #1
Seventh-grader Lafayette fears that he will become separated from his two brothers after the death of their mother. "Viewing household tensions through Lafayette's eyes, readers will come to realize each character's internal conflicts and recognize their desperate need to cling together as a family," said PW. Ages 12-up. (Dec.) n Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2000 May
Gr 6-10-A compelling novel about three streetwise New York City brothers trying to help one another confront their personal demons. Thirteen-year-old Lafayette still grieves for his mother, who died of diabetes two years earlier. He blames himself for not being able to save her. Older brother Ty'ree is more mature and responsible but he, too, is tormented by the past. He witnessed his father rescue a drowning woman and later die of hypothermia before Lafayette was born, and he continues to feel guilty for not being able to help him. Lafayette and Ty'ree take comfort in school, work, and other routines of daily life to keep their lives focused and their minds off the past. All of this changes, however, when a middle brother named Charlie returns from a juvenile-detention facility where he served a three-year sentence for an armed robbery. Having this angry, sometimes hostile presence in their lives forces Lafayette and Ty'ree to depend upon one another even more to work through their grief and figure out how to help Charlie survive. As usual, Woodson's characterizations and dialogue are right on. The dynamics among the brothers are beautifully rendered. The narrative is told through dialogue and Lafayette's introspections so there is not a lot of action, but readers should find this story of tough, self-sufficient young men to be powerful and engaging.-Edward Sullivan, New York Public Library Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2000 April
Twelve-year-old Lafayette and his older brothers Ty'ree and Charlie are Milagro's-Miracle's-boys. Three years have passed since Milagro died of insulin shock, and their father died rescuing a woman and her dog from an icy lake just before Lafayettewas born. A few months ago Charlie returned home from the juvenile detention center after serving three years for robbing a store. The boys attempt to deal with their guilt and grief individually, although it was Milagro's fondest wish for them towork together as brothers. Ty'ree dropped out of college to raise Lafayette and Charlie, and Lafayette thinks of him as completely good. He sees "Newcharlie," the brother whom he no longer knows after his time away, as completely evil. EventuallyLafayette realizes that none of them are all good or all bad, and that only by bonding together as their mother had wished can they cope with their mutual grief over the way their lives have developed. The ending wraps everything up a little too neatly and is rather sentimental, but the reader wants it to end that way, rooting for these boys, even misunderstood Charlie, during the whole story. Woodson effectively paints a portrait of this smallfamily struggling to take care of and love one another, brother to brother, in this quiet, lovely novel.-Karen Herc. Copyright 2000 Voya Reviews

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