What a pleasure it is to read another of the late Walter Dean Myers’ works. “Scorpions” is a bleak book, reminiscent of Dickens, but without the macabre. Myers’ books give the reader insight into the lives of POC in the inner city. “Scorpions” is the tale of young Jamal and his family and his best friend Tito. Jamal’s brother is in jail, and he’s being pressured to take his brother’s place as leader of a gang but the gang members have other ideas. After all, Jamal is only 12 and what does he know about running a gang?
Jamal’s family can’t catch a break. His mother works intermittently, Jamal and his younger sister often fend for themselves for food, and his troubles at school keep mounting. Through it all is his constant friend Tito.
What I find most troubling in the book is the school. This is not the era of child centered education. The teachers belittle, threaten, and generally don’t offer support to Jamal in a time when he needs it most (like when he’s being beaten by the school bully). It’s no wonder he gets in trouble so much.
Scorpions will tear your heart out, although there are a few tender moments. Can you see why this was a Newbery Honor book?
Totally qualifies for the Diversity Reading Challenge.