All The Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers is a really well written book that discusses the idea of the social contract and the implications that it has on different parts of society. For me, this was right up my alleyway as someone with a background in both psychology and womenís studies. All the themes and lessons really resonated with me which made the book truly enjoyable. It was a refreshing read that didnít include any drama or romance but instead chose to focus on the growth and development of one character as he learns the ropes of being an adult in the American world.
Paul Dupree, the main character, scores a summer job working in a Harlem soup kitchen with an elderly man named Elijah. At first, Paul isnít exactly sure how to take Elijah because he wants to do more then just make soup and serve it. He wants to educate Paul about the political theory of the social contract. This is a little bit complex for Paul and he claims that he doesnít think that he needs to know it but soon enough he finds himself wondering all about this theory, and what it takes to follow it in his surroundings. And as Paul began to ponder and think about the going-ons in American society, so did I. This book was DEEP but, it was enjoyable to read, and I loved the way that it made me think about things.
Paulís transformation is slow and gradual but still really noticeable. At first, he really doesnít want anything to do with Elijah or the information that he is trying to push on him. He just wants a summer job where he can have a little extra to help him through. He also claims that it hurts his head to even think about it. (I have to agree with him on this. Social theory often gave me a headache too, when I was learning it!). But little by little, he starts to take in the information and applying it to his own life and to those around him. This includes a young single mom named Keisha who Paul is mentoring in basketball. Overall, he makes me some meaningful realizations about life and society.
“Life is going to be harder for some people. It’s going to be harder at different times in our lives. But, if you’re not ready to die today, then you’re going to be responsible for tomorrow whether you like it or not.” (pg.149)
This is a quote that I really liked from All The Right Stuff because I think it is one that almost anyone can relate to. Like if you were to hand this book to a teenager who has no interest in political theory, they may be able to relate to it on a more personal level. They may be able to relate to the main character, and just like him be able to see how the concept of the social theory affects their daily lives. This is also one of the things that I found to be really good about this book. It is very accessible to many, and the way it is written is not dumbed-down for the reader but is instead easily welcoming. There is no alienation here.
Honestly, if you are looking to brush up on your political theory, or just interested in trying something new and diverse, I would highly recommend All The Right Stuff to you. It has a decent storyline, good characters, and a brisk writing style that you make you want to truly invest in it and keep reading. Check it out!
Disclosure: Received finished copy from April
Other reviews of All The Right Stuff by Walter Dean Myers:
Melissa’s Midnight Musings: “I think that this book is helpful for young and older adults because the analogies are easy to relate to.”
†Forever Young Adult: “Let’s Do The Required Reading For Social Studies Together!”
April’s Review: “Friends, if you want to freshen up your political theory with a halfway decent storyline, check out All The Right Stuff, and be sure to brew up some soup while youíre at it, trust me, youíll be craving some.”