WE COULD BE BROTHERS by Derrick Barnes (Scholastic Press, November 2010, $17.99) is an absorbing story following three teens from Alain Locke Middle School. The story opens at dismissal as 6th grader Robeson starts the dreaded stroll “down the Bermuda Hallway. On the ground floor right next to the boy’ locker room is a set of stairs that are so deep, so narrow, so musty and hot. There have been kids who have gone down but never came back up.” Robeson is on his way to PSS (Post School Suspension).
This is a new experience for Robeson, nicknamed Crease, because his trousers always have a crease in them. His term is only for three days, but those three days will be most memorable. Also three other students are in PSS , and each will have a profound effect on Crease. Pacino, a boy from a rough neighborhood; Tariq also from a rough situation and an eighth grade girl named Rosilyn. During their time in PSS each student is assigned a mindless task like folding and/or stapling. The room monitor Mr Patt involves himself doing puzzles on his MacBook.
Not much chance for interaction one might think; however soon the three boys find themselves on a collision course headed for sure tragedy. The relationships both bad and good develop quickly and run into trouble way beyond the confined time of PSS. The plot moves swiftly and will absorb even a reluctant reader curious to discover who will come out unscathed.
Very solid story of school relationships and family life particularly in the inner city. Lots of twists and turns to keep young readers attention on the story.