Bronx Masquerade is a story about eighteen teenagers in Mr. Ward’s English class who start an open mike Fridays which gives them the opportunity to share their personal thoughts and feelings through poetry and rap. The story takes place at a school that is mostly made up of African Americans and Latinos. There is a small minority of Caucasians and other groups that aren’t really observed in this story.
As students read their poetry each week, they learn to have hope for their own future and not judge others from the outside. They also learn that they do not have to give into the stereotypes and settle for the pre determined lives that others have for them, but to follow their dreams.
Readers are introduced to a wide range of characters who strive to overcome obstacles and stereotypes. Tyrone wants to drop out of school to become a rapper. Chanakara is a girl who broke up with her boyfriend after he hits her. Diondra Jordan wants to be an artist like Raul Ramirez but everyone else thinks that she should play basketball because of her height. Devon Hope is on the basketball team and enjoys reading. However, he doesn’t let his friends see him reading books because he is afraid that they will call him a geek. Lupe Algarin wants to have a baby in order to feel loved. Gloria Martinez is a teen mom taking care of her child on her own . Janelle Battle likes Devon Hope and also struggles with her looks including her weight.
Leslie Lucas is one of the few white students at the school who moved to the Bronx because of her mother dying from cancer. Judianne Alexander is a girl who has a talent for designing clothes but struggles with her dark skin complexion. Judianne wishes that she could be like Tanisha Scott has light skin . Students call Sterling S. Hughes “preacher” because of his religious beliefs. Amy Moscowitz is a girl who no one knows about because she keeps to herself. She has a father who barely cares about her. Sheila Gamberoni is an Italian girl who doesn’t have the self confidence to be herself. Steve Ericson is a white student who dreams of building sets for Broadway.
Nikki Grimes has created characters that are realistic and believable. They cope with situations that are relatable to today’s teens. Sheila doesn’t have the self confidence to just be herself. I believe that she tries to fit in with the others students in order to be accepted. She even goes as far as trying to change her name. I am concerned if Lupe understands what it takes to be a mom especially a single teen mom.
This is a great book for readers who enjoy poetry. The poetic style reminds me of some of the books written by Walter Dean Myers. Hopefully readers will find the stories of these young people to be inspirational.