Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Lu (Book #4 of Track) by Jason Reynolds

Lu is the fourth and final book in the Track series. We have already met three of Lu's teammates: Ghost, Patina, and Sunny. Each of these characters had personal challenges to overcome and with the help of Coach Brody, they were able to work through some of them while striving to perfect their track and field skills.

Lu is a talented runner, and co-captain of the Defenders, much to the chagrin of the team's captain, Chris. Lu, an only child, was also his parents miracle baby and was also born with albinism. Though he thinks of himself as the "fine-o-albino," every morning he goes through the same ritual, reciting his mantra as he puts in his contact lenses and a thick layer of sun screen to protect his skin, followed by the gold chains and diamond earrings given to him by his dad. That done, Lu is ready to face the day.

But now, his parents have informed him that his mother is once again pregnant. Suddenly, Lu is no longer the miracle baby, and his parents have given him the honor of naming his new baby sister-to-be. And he comes up with some doozies until he hits upon just the right one.

On top of that, Lu has been practicing jumping hurdles as he and his teammates prepare for the Defenders first championship meet. But when his foot clips one of the hurdles, and he goes down, Lu finds it difficult to face hurdles, shying way from jumping over them each time he tries. As he and Coach work through this, Lu learns some disturbing things about his father's past.

Lu has always thought of his father as the coolest dude around, "Always fly. Fresh clothes, kicks, tattoos." (pg 48), a guy who spends his days trying to get drug addicts into rehab. But when Lu learns about bad decisions he made as a young teen who was tired of being made fun of because of a bad stutter, his father's falls off the pedestal that Lu had placed him on. Now, Lu has more hurdles to overcome than just what he faces on the field. Can his father deal with his own past as honestly as he has always dealt with things before, and restore Lu's faith in him?

Told in the first person, Lu has a voice that grabs you and keeps you reading. The dialogue throughout sounds realistic, as do the situations that impact Lu's life. I think that this book tackles issues drug addiction,, jealousy, and being bullied for being different (albinism, stuttering) really well, while stressing the importance of acceptance, family and teamwork.

One of the things I did like about Lu, is that we learn more about Coach Brody and his assistant Coach Whit. Up until now, we only had the barest information about either one, but here we see how their lives have intertwined with Lu's parents since they were kids. I thought knowing that they had their own stories gave the book a lot more depth. It also gives a greater understanding of the influences in the neighborhood where most of them live and what Coach has been trying to do for the kids on his team (much like Reynolds is trying to do with this trilogy for his readers).

With his Track Series, Reynolds has written a coming-of-age quartet of stories that focus on the four newbie members on the Defenders team, each one so different from the others both on and off the track, and then he brings it all to a satisfying ending. Like Ghost, Patina, and Sunny, Lu also has some important lessons to learn - but essentially what Reynolds is trying to get across to his middle grade readers is that there is a better way to channel your anger, your fear, and your jealousies. For Lu, t's also about integrity, about being true to yourself, about having a soundness inside that won't deteriorate.

Ghost, Patina, Sunny, and now Lu is a great relay of books for kids and I can't recommend all of them highly enough.

An excellent Reading Guide is available from the publisher, Simon & Schuster, HERE

This book is recommended for readers age 9+
This book was an EARC received from Edelweiss+

1 comment:

  1. I'm reading GHOST right now. It took me a month to get it from my library reserve system. I've read Patina too. I love this series! Can't wait for Lu. Wish I had read them in order though!


Imagination Designs