Friday, August 6, 2010


RiotRiot by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 3 of 5 stars ("Liked It")

In the style of a screenplay, Myers outlines the racial tensions - born of economic frustrations - of the 1863 riots in New York. Clare, our protagonist, must grapple with the issue of identity when her very being prevents her from knowing which "side" she belongs to. The audiobook version is presented with a full cast including soundtrack and effects; it is extremely well-done and works surprisingly well with the format. Some of Myers' scenes or characters don't feel perfectly cohesive with the overall story arc (namely a cameo by Walt Whitman and Clare's meeting of soldiers). In general, however, the book is well-told and an engaging read.

My only pet peeve with this book? It's too short! Myers starts a few days into the riots, but I think he lost a lot of climatic tension that way. It would have been interesting to see more build-up. Still, though, even Myers' average books are better than most.

This would be an excellent book in the classroom to accompany a unit studying cinematic techniques. And...oh, what's this? Why yes, I have fun ideas on just that!

Recommend: Yes, but mainly to middle school students

Topics Discussed: Race, Historic Events, Identity, Violence

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