Black Boy, White School Brian F. Walker Book Review

Black Boy, White School Brian F. Walker Book ReviewBlack Boy White School by Brian F. Walker
Published by Harper Collins on January 3rd 2012
Genres: Young Adult, General, Social Issues, Adolescence, People & Places, United States, African American
Pages: 256
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon

He couldn’t listen to music or talk on the phone without her jumping all over him about what they listened to up in Maine, or how they talked up in Maine, or how he better not go up to Maine and start acting ghetto.
Anthony’s mother didn’t even know where it was until he’d shown it to her on a map, but that still didn’t stop her from acting like she was born there.
Anthony “Ant” Jones has never been outside his rough East Cleveland neighborhood when he’s given a scholarship to Belton Academy, an elite prep school in Maine.But at Belton things are far from perfect. Everyone calls him “Tony,” assumes he’s from Brooklyn, expects him to play basketball, and yet acts shocked when he fights back.
As Anthony tries to adapt to a world that will never fully accept him, he’s in for a rude awakening: Home is becoming a place where he no longer belongs.
In debut author Brian F. Walker’s hard-hitting novel about staying true to yourself, Anthony might find a way to survive at Belton, but what will it cost him?

I find it unfortunate that Black Boy, White School by Brian F. Walker has received so little attention online. Black Boy, White School is a young adult novel about Ant, a black boy from East Cleveland who earns a scholarship to a boarding school in Main. Black Boy, White School is a quick read with interesting insight about racism.

Honestly, I liked Ant as a character. I thought the author, Brian F. Walker, could have gone one way and made Ant a stereotypical angry young black man. Instead, Walker paints Ant as a vulnerable character who doesn’t fit into either of his worlds – home on the streets of East Cleveland where his friends are dying or at Main where everyone thinks he’s from New York City and there to play ball.

Black Brother, White School provides an interesting look at the lip service some pay to multiculturalism. It shows how some schools do the bare minimum to claim diversity, yet it is clearly NOT enough. Yet, I felt some of the issues raised by Walker -of privilege- could have been explored more deeply. I felt Black Boy, White School was a good book, but fell short of being great because of the shallow treatment of the issues Ant faces. I wish Black Boy, White School had been longer. Maybe I would have felt that ‘HALLELUJAH THIS IS GREAT I LEARNED SOMETHING’ that I get with the occasional Walter Dean Myers or Sherman Alexie book. Plus, the ending of Black Boy, White School is very abrupt. I felt unsatisfied.

Yet, I believe Black Boy, White School by Brian F. Walker has an audience with reluctant readers. It has awesome things like swearing, violence, alcohol, and drug use. It is not a sanitized story — which is definitely what some kids want. I certainly appreciated it’s realism. I would say that Black Boy, White School is a great book to hand a kid who has no clue what to read after Walter Dean Myers.

Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher

This counts for the PoC Reading Challenge as well as the Debut Author Challenge.

Other reviews of Black Boy, White School by Brian F. Walker:

Chick Loves Lit
Whatchamacallit Reviews

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April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.
About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. Reading your review makes me think back to when I was in school. My parents are pretty racist. I was told I could never date “one”. If I did, I would be disowned. My mother taught me from a young age that puerto ricans smell bad.. Up until I was in highschool I sincerely believed this was true.. but on the contrary, some of them smell really good. Seriously though, racism is still an issue these days.. maybe not as much as back in the day, but it’s there. It’s carried down through generation, and I’m afraid it may never fully go away.

    Even though I was raised to be racist.. It never stuck with me.. I make my own decisions and opinions. I never really noticed racism in my HS. I had a few black friends.. most of my school was white though. I may have not noticed it, because I wasn’t the minority.. now you have me thinking.. maybe I should message a few of these friends on FB and get their opinion, b/c I’m very curious now.

    I’m not sure I will read this particular book, since it fell a little short for you, and I despise abrupt endings.

    Also, this cover is not very good. unfortunately covers do make a difference, I’m more likely to pick of a pretty covered book vs something like this with loud writing and colors. I think if it was a picture of him maybe sitting against a wall, with the school yard in the backround, something like that.. the floating half a head just doesn’t do it for me.

  2. I think this book sounds like it packs a pretty powerful punch, though I duly note that it could possibly have been expounded or lengthened. But I do think it brings attention quite well to the issue of racism, based on your review, and for that alone, I think I’d want to read it.

  3. Hur freakin ray for mulitcultural books that have an appeal for reluctant readers. Let’s face it, teen boys are some of the most reluctant readers out there, and unfortunately because of social pressure, minority boys can be even more reluctant. I love to see books written for this demographic, especially when they’re not preachy, but rather have something real to say about and to them. Stories of characters who don’t really fit anywhere always kind of break my heart, I’ll certainly have to check this one out.

  4. Wow–I wish that this book were talked up more! It sounds absolutely perfect for some of my reluctant readers. There just aren’t enough PoC books out there to satisfy them, and they’re turned off reading as a result (the school I teach in is about 80% African American). I’m definitely going to check this out, especially since he isn’t a racial stereotype (thank goodness!).

  5. I have NEVER heard of this book, and that’s saying something, because I’m quite the fan of multiculturalism (though you’re right…there is a LOT of lip service paid to the idea instead of actually acting on it). I don’t think there’s enough diversity in literature, especially YA literature, and I’m always happy to hear about more great additions!

    And YAY for the Sherman Alexie mention. I’ve never actually read any of his novels, but I’ve read quite a few of his short stories and poems in my literature classes. Great writer!

  6. I am looking to read some novels that tackle the issue of race, but it sounds like this one doesn’t do that. That’s too bad.