My branch of the library has recently acquired a lot of juvenile titles, so I’ve been reading a few of them in my spare time at work. I recently picked up New Kid by Jerry Craft, about Jordan Banks, a black kid from Washington Heights who wants to go to art school but instead is sent to Riverdale Academy, a majority-white private school with better opportunities. The book is a chronicle of his first year at Riverdale, and his experiences with implicit racism and bias that are inherent to the school. A big example is his teachers’ continual mixing-up of names among all the black kids, but not among the white kids. Jordan also makes some friends he might not’ve expected along the way, too.
I liked New Kid for its frank discussion of what it was like for Jordan in a mostly-white school, and for the clear lens through which he showed systemic racism and microaggressions that impacted his life daily. I also liked the drawing style and the jokes, especially the pop-culture references in the chapter titles. I would’ve liked to see more about Jordan’s life at home and his interactions with the neighborhood kids, which seemed set up to be more than they were. Overall, I’ll keep my eye out for other books by Jerry Craft.