Thursday, November 12, 2020

Book Review: Class Act by Jerry Craft


Class Act by Jerry Craft

Published 2020 by Quill Tree Books

256 pages, middle grade realistic fiction graphic novel.

This book is SO GOOD. The art is a delight. Characters are expressively drawn and clearly delineated. The chapter headings are wonderful homages to different graphic novels, and there is a terrific scene where a table full of Black students are introduced--"Angie, Nic, Jason, Renée Kwame..." I didn't catch it at first, until I noticed Kwame's shaved head and realized he was modeled on the author. Then I went back and saw who all of them were!

Wonderful Easter eggs aside, the story is full of humor It made me guffaw a few times, from one kid wryly commenting, "That's why I only fist bump him," when the friends realize Jordan's crushing handshakes are a family tradition, to the constant witty nicknames Jordan and Drew call each other, to Mr. Roche's general cluelessness, culminating in the school sending teachers to the National Organization of Cultural Liaisons Understanding Equality. (Check out the acronym.)

I love the way Craft balances friendship issues and social issues, sometimes dumping them upside down. Jordan and Drew, working class and middle class Black boys, both come from loving homes. Their white friend Liam has a chauffeur, maid, indoor swimming pool, and a messed up family. Some of the teachers are still mired in micro-aggressions and foolishness, and some are so anxious about being offensive that they become easy prey for the teasing of Samira, who wears a hijab with aplomb. The book itself does a lot of teasing of well-intentioned white people (of whom I am one), and I am Here For It.

Fitting in, showing someone you like them, making and challenging assumptions, and finding your own way in life--all of these very real concerns for tweens and teens are beautifully represented in the students of Riverdale Academy Day School. There's not one overarching conflict or issue, just a kind-hearted portrayal of a year in the life of a bunch of (mostly) great kids.

5/5 stars


  1. I loved this book as well, Jerry Craft is just so talented. And the Easter eggs were a wonderful addition.

  2. Laugh at me, it took me three times to figure out No Clue.


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