ChickLitGurrl Reviews Freshman Focus

Positive, Uplifting Book for Black Teens 

4 out of 5 stars 

The freshman year of high school can be a stressful, frightening time for teens.  They have to learn their new roles as freshmen, they have to figure out where they fit in, they have to deal with making new friends, and just as important, they have to figure out who they are as individuals.  All of these struggles, and more, are explored in the first book of Carla Sarratt’s Carter G. Woodson High series, FRESHMAN FOCUS.

In FRESHMAN FOCUS, we are introduced to an eclectic group of students: Kendra, a strong-willed girl with a good family and a good head on her shoulders who learns that people – including herself – can change for the good; Lamar – Kendra’s best friend, a clown in the classroom but a heavy-hearted boy at home as he continues to deal with his father’s passing; Destiny, the beautiful, stuck up, spoiled brat of the clan whose picture-perfect life isn’t as shiny and happy as she makes everyone believe; and Steven, a student new to Charlotte and new to the world of having a good family structure as his parents are criminals and currently doing time in jail.  All of them, through their first taste of high school, experience growing pains that change them, motivate them, and aspire them to be better than who they were when they first walked into Carter G. Woodson High School.

I really enjoyed this novel for several reasons.  It is a book that illustrates the importance of black history, of black culture – in all its positive light.  Sarratt starts each chapter with a moment in black history, these positive affirmations that seem to permeate the high school, the students, their families, and their community.  It’s wonderful to read a book that makes you feel good, makes you feel that the stereotypes that bind a culture aren’t as strong as you might think.  I also enjoyed Sarratt’s weaving of student assignments in the story.  It was a creative way to let the reader into the minds of the students without merely telling us everything.  Despite the number of characters in the novel, Sarratt is able to seamlessly move us from character to character, using distinct voices and characteristics for each character.

There are moments where the reader will laugh, they are moments where the reader will cry, and there are moments where the reader will think. When a writer is able to make you feel a gamut of emotions such as these, I’d say that’s a book worth reading.

I’m connected with these characters, and I look forward to reading the next book in Sarratt’s series.

~Shon Bacon – ChickLitGurrl

In addition to the review, I also had an interview with Shon for her blog and her magazine.

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