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Miracle's Boys

by Jacqueline Woodson

Published by Putnam, 2000
133 pages
ISBN: 0-399-23113-7

Age 12 and older

Twelve-year-old Lafayette was once close to his middle brother, Charlie. But now he calls him "Newcharlie" because the older boy has changed so much since serving time in a juvenile justice center. The boy who loved animals and once cried at the death of a stray dog seems to have disappeared and someone hard, even cruel, has taken his place. "Milagro killer," Charlie calls Lafayette, using the Spanish word for their mother's name, Miracle. He is referring to the fact that Lafayette was the only one home when their Mama died–suggesting with his taunt that she might have been saved if Lafayette had gotten help in time. Lafayette's oldest brother, 22-year-old Ty'ree, has been taking care of both boys since Miracle died. "Saint Ty'ree" is what the neighbors call this young man who gave up a college scholarship to care for his siblings. But Ty'ree keeps trying to tell Lafayette that he's only human. Jacqueline Woodson's characters are certainly of flesh and blood, heart and soul, in this novel that looks at the lives of three brothers burdened by the loss of both parents and dreams that have died. The aching emptiness, sadness and guilt that young Lafayette feels over the recent loss of their mother is a palpable force in this narrative that is sounded in his first-person voice. They are feelings that one senses each of the other brothers shares and can understand, and yet all three are reluctant to discuss them. Instead, there is a wall of silence that keeps the brothers from drawing emotional strength from one another. The novel takes place over little more than 24 hours, but much of it involves Lafayette flashing back to things that happened in weeks, months and years before. Over that one day of action and reflection, events in the present and revelations made about the past will mark a potential turning point in the brothers' feelings about themselves, their relationship, and the future that lies before them. Honor Book, CCBC 2001 Coretta Scott King Author Discussion CCBC categories: Fiction for Young Adults. (MS; June 5) ©2000 Cooperative Children's Book Center

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