Friday, March 30, 2018

Patina (Book #2 of Track) by Jason Reynolds

In this second book of Jason Reynold's Track series, we meet Patina Jones, 12, a new girl and a gifted athlete on the Defenders track team, who has just come in second in an 800-meter race, and considers it a loss. Because Patty Jones, fastest girl on the team, needs to win - she's already experienced too much loss in her young life. As a 6 year old, she lost her adored father when he went to bed one night and never woke up. A few years later, her diabetic mother began a series of amputations until finally she lost both legs when Patty was 9. Patty may be a sore loser, but as her mother likes to  remind her, Patty Jones ain't no junk either.

Now that their mother can't really take care of the Patty and her younger sister Maddy, 6, they live with her Uncle Tony, and his white wife, Emily called Momly. Patty has taken on a protective kind of responsibility Maddy, believing Momly can't understand some things about being a black girl, like braiding Maddy's hair. The girls still see their mother every Sunday for church, and Momly, who is a nurse, takes her to dialysis three times a week. Since moving, Patty and Maddy both attend a fancy white charter school. Patty doesn't feel like she fits in with the girls in her class, whom she calls "hair flippers," and tends to keep to herself, missing her best friend Cotton from her old neighborhood. Now, though, she has been assigned to work on a school project about Frida Kahlo with three white girls, Taylor, Taylor, and Becca, and Patty isn't any too happy about it, especially since she seems to be the only one doing any work for the project.

On the track team, Coach Brody doesn't hold with attitude from any of his runners, including Patty.  Soon, Patty finds herself a member of the 4x400 relay race, a race in which the runners must rely on each other in order to win. However, Patty is a fiercely independent girl, and one who likes to control her world as much as possible. But Coach Whit, Coach's assistant, has other ideas, including some unorthodox ways of teaching the girls to work together - but teaching them to waltz? Brilliant!

At home, in school and on the track team, Patty needs to learn how to be a team player. Can she let go of her independence enough to succeed?

I really liked Ghost, the first book in Jason Reynolds' Track series, so much so that I had kind of a hard time getting into Patina, and yet, once I got past the first few pages, I couldn't put it down. The story is told from Patty's point of view in the first person, so the reader knows exactly what is going on in her head. She is a wonderfully fully-fleshed out character - loving, fiercely competitive, very opinionated (though she keeps her opinions mostly to herself and the reader), but also conflicted, flawed, and very afraid of more loss in her life. That fear prevents her from allowing herself to rely on any one other than herself. But, as the story unfolds, Patty is thrown into situations where she must learn to work with others in order to succeed - at home, at school, and on the track.

Patty has some important lessons to learn, and we do see some wonderful character development, Reynolds' narrative arc progresses at just the right pace for that to happen. For example, one of the things I really liked about her story is the way Reynolds subtly introduces the idea of teamwork all through the novel - it is slow, and steady, so the reader can really absorb it and really appreciate Patty's reaction to it.

Patty's life isn't easy, but she, like Ghost, has a loving family support system - they are there for her and she needs them much more than she is willing to admit, because Patty Jones definitely "ain't no junk" but she is not the tough cookie she would like us to believe she is, either.

Ghost handed off the baton to Patina and Patina hands it off to Sunny in April 2018. And I for one can't wait to continue this relay race.

You can find a useful Teacher's Guide for Patina HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was borrowed from the Bank Street School Library

On a personal level, I can really relate to Patty's feelings about her father and losing him so suddenly. When my Kiddo was young, her father also went to bed one Friday night, after an evening of talking and kidding around while they decorated the Christmas tree, and never woke up. She was devastated for the longest time, and even now will ask do I think he would be proud of her.


  1. I have had Ghosts on my list for a while. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much too. Hope I can start these soon. :) Great review!

  2. Ghost is on my Teen Reads for the summer. Great Review.

  3. I haven't come across a children;s book that has a parent who had diabetic amputations before. This is a first for me, and I'm glad someone did it. Diabetes is something more children should know about. Thanks for sharing!

    I'm part of #DiverseKidLit blog hop. :)

  4. I have Ghost in my pile based on a recommendation. I did not realize it was a series. Patina sounds like a moving book. Thanks for the suggestion.


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