Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Hitting Puberty Hard: Chameleon

I recently had a discussion with other moms about our kids hitting puberty, and I mentioned the possibility of leaving Judy Blume's Then Again Maybe I Won't around if I thought my son was in need of information he no longer wanted to get from his mom. Well, now I've found a book that covers the same information, but in a much rawer form. Charles R. Smith Jr.'s Chameleon follows a boy in the summer before he starts high school, as he hangs with his friends and ramps up the puberty slope.

Shawn has different issues as well; he's choosing between a high school in a rough section of town near his mom's work, which means dealing with gangs and drugs but also includes his close friends and the girl he has a crush on, or the school near his home, which is smaller and safer and probably stronger. His budding sexuality is much more aggressive than the boy in Blume's story; Shawn is an ass-man, and his close attention to butts and bodies makes this book read much older -- it's definitely a YA rather than kidlit. But the "what's happening to my body" theme is much the same -- from wet dreams to erection worries. I felt the ending was choppy; it ends the week before Shawn decides which school to attend, but I liked the characterization of Shawn and his friends and found the depiction of black male friendship powerful, from the basketball games through the organized insults to the recognition of the fear their mere existence causes in people who see four boys standing together and immediately think "gang." B+

1 comment:

Kristen said...

I keep trying to convince D. he has to do all the boy puberty stuff since he has first had experience. Somehow all the questions come up when I'm the only one home though. I wonder if I could get W. to read about this stuff and then come to me if he needs more info?