Tutored by Allison Whittenberg
Publication Date: 14 December 2010
I received a copy of this book through Star Book Tours.
Wendy Anderson and Hakiam Powell are at opposite ends of the spectrum—the social spectrum, the financial spectrum, the opportunity spectrum, you name it. Wendy lives in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia, where she’s always felt like the only chip in the cookie. Her dad, who fought his way out of the ghetto, doesn’t want her mingling with “those people.” In fact, all Wendy’s life, her father has told her how terrible “those people” are. He even objects to Wendy’s plan to attend a historically black college. But Wendy feels that her race is more than just the color of her skin, and she takes a job tutoring at an inner-city community center to get a more diverse perspective on life.
Hakiam has never lived in one place for more than a couple of years. When he aged out of foster care in Ohio, he hopped a bus to Philly to start over, but now he’s broke, stuck taking care of his cousin’s premature baby for no pay, and finding it harder than ever to stay out of trouble. When he meets Wendy at the tutoring center, he thinks she’s an uppity snob—she can’t possibly understand his life. But as he gets to know her better, he sees a softer side. And eventually—much to the chagrin of Wendy’s father and Hakiam’s cousin—they begin a rocky, but ultimately enlightening, romance.
Loved: The fact that Allison Whittenberg has written a book that features POC (People Of Color) as the main characters. Tutored is a breath of fresh air in a genre where most of the books written and published center around Caucasian characters. Whittenberg explores how the lives of African-Americans from different classes can be very divergent. I also loved how the author showed that even though Wendy was well off and did not want for most things, this did not necessarily mean that she was happy. Being the only African-American in her suburban neighborhood was difficult for her.
Liked: The contrast of Wendy's father's character with Hakiam. Wendy's father had grown up in a bad neighborhood and had used this as motivation to improve his situation as an adult. While I didn't agree with his attitude regarding other blacks who lived in the same conditions he grew up in, I liked how he used his poor upbringing to inspire himself to do better and be successful in adulthood. In contrast, Hakiam didn't seem to have any motivation to improve his situation. He felt that this was his future and he just needed to accept it. Whittenberg was able to capture the two different ideals that poor African-Americans have today.
Disliked: I did not feel much of a connection with Wendy's character. With Hakiam, readers were able to see his development, especially in terms of his relationship with his niece, Malikia, but I just didn't feel that Wendy developed much as a character from who she was in the beginning of the story.
Overall: I loved the concept of this story, but I wish that I could have felt more of a connection with the characters, especially Wendy. I think a little more character development could have gone a long way to making this an excellent example of a great story featuring POC.
My Rating: 3 stars
Picture and description courtesy of Goodreads.
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