I thoroughly enjoyed Erskine's new book, Seeing Red, but I'm not sure how my students will respond to it. After reading another one of her books, Mockingbird, I recommended it to several of my students whom I thought would enjoy it. Several of them abandoned it without finishing, and the few that did finish said it was just 'okay'. Hopefully there will be a better reaction to Seeing Red!
Red Porter, the novel's namesake, is a boy growing up in the South during the time following desegregation. Lots of things have recently changed in Red's life when the novel opens - his father had passed away and his best friend, Thomas (an African American), for some reason no longer wants to be friends. On top of that, his mother is trying to sell the home/store that's been in their family for years; she can't support it without her husband's help. Desperate to maintain his home and salvage its sale, Red gets caught up with a no-good group of boys who call themselves the Brotherhood. They're essentially mini-white supremacists and intend to wreak havoc on the town. It doesn't take Red long to realize he doesn't want to be a part of their shenanigans, but can he get out in time?
During his journey, Red encounters lots of other problems as well: an aging family friend, Miss Georgia, a new teacher whose methods are questioned by the principal, and a friend, Rosie, whose life is ravaged by abuse.
I think that one of Erskine's biggest strengths is the way she's able to develop her characters. In Mockingbird, she wrote about a character with Asperger's and made me feel like I was reading something written by someone with the condition. Similarly in this novel, the narration sounded exactly as it would coming from a pre-teen boy in the South during that time period.