Book Review–Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes



This is the 19th book from my 115 in 2015 Reading Challenge.


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Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
Published December 31st, 2001 by Dial Books


When Wesley Boone writes a poem for his high school English class, some of his classmates clamor to read their poems aloud too. Soon they’re having weekly poetry sessions and, one by one, the eighteen students are opening up and taking on the risky challenge of self-revelation.

There’s Lupe Alvarin, desperate to have a baby so she will feel loved. Raynard Patterson, hiding a secret behind his silence. Porscha Johnson, needing an outlet for her anger after her mother OD’s. Through the poetry they share and narratives in which they reveal their most intimate thoughts about themselves and one another, their words and lives show what lies beneath the skin, behind the eyes, beyond the masquerade.





The plot reminds me a bit of The Freedom Writer’s Diary, only it’s about a class of kids who do slam poetry based on their life experiences. It’s done in different POVs, which was a little confusing at first but ended up being neat. Often each POV would end with that character’s poetry reading.


The setting is not really mentioned too often, just hints to give away that it’s an area that’s either in or near the city and can be dangerous in certain areas. It would have been nice to have a little more insight to the area and how it affected the kids.


There’s several different POVs of kids from all backgrounds and races, each going through their own situations. The book is pretty short so only a glimpse of their lives are given, but I felt they were well fleshed out not only from their POV but also from their poems. I especially liked Tyrone, Lupe, Janelle, and Devon.


Not really many romantic relationships to speak of, but some of the friend relationships were interesting. I particularly liked the one between Leslie and Porscha. All of the kids seem to come to an understanding that there is more to each of them than meets the eye.


The writing took a little getting used to at first, but once I got into it, it was a fast and enjoyable read. There are several POVs going on, along with poems written by the different kids. For the most part they sound like they are from different kids.


The book felt like it ended a little abruptly, but I liked the positive ending.


Fast read with a good message, especially for those in high school. Fans of the freedom writers, positive educational stories, and slam poetry will probably enjoy this one. The only drawback I saw was that it’s really short.








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