Born in sin

Author Coleman, Evelyn
Language English
Publisher
New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001




Annotation:

Despite serious obstacles and setbacks, fourteen-year-old Keisha pursues her dream of becoming an Olympic swimmer and medical doctor.



Subjects :

  • African Americans Juvenile Fiction
  • Swimming Fiction
  • African Americans Fiction

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Author Illustrator(s) :

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Best Books :

  • Kaleidoscope, A Multicultural Booklist for Grades K-8, Fourth Edition, 2003 , War and Resilience
  • Senior High Core Collection, Seventeenth Edition, 2007 , None
  • Senior High School Library Catalog, Sixteenth Edition, 2002 , None
  • Young Adults' Choices, 2003 , None

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Awards, Honors & Prizes :

  • Parents' Choice Award , Fiction , 2001

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State & Provincial Reading List :

  • Black-Eyed Susan Book Award; High School 2004-2005
  • Tayshas High School Reading List; None 2002-2002
  • Volunteer State Book Award; Young Adults 2004-2004

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Reading Measurement Programs:


999999
() .

Lexile, MetaMetrics, Inc.
530L

Reading Counts-Scholastic
Reading Level 5.8
Interest Level High School
Title Point Value 14

Accelerated Reader

Interest Level UG
Accelerated Reader Points 8

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Reviews :

Publishers Weekly (Publishers Weekly)
Keisha, a 14-year-old growing up in Georgia, narrates the events of a pivotal summer in Coleman's (White Socks Only) inspiring novel. When her high school guidance counselor thwarts her efforts to get into Avery's fast-track pre-med program and instead places Keisha in a summer program for at-risk kids, Keisha erupts in a rage (" `You know what, Ms. Hill. Ain't the hospital just a few blocks away? I ain't the one at risk. You are.' And I leaped over the desk to get to her"). The author carefully finesses Keisha's complex emotions as she attempts to be true to herself and to navigate the obstructions in her path. It is Keisha's strong narrative voice, combined with some striking characters and relationships, that keeps her story afloat, despite some far-fetched and serpentine plot developments. Through this summer at-risk program, Keisha learns to deal with her own racial prejudice, makes her first real friends and discovers that she has a natural talent for swimming. Readers may find that Keisha's acceleration from non-swimmer to Olympic hopeful stretches credibility. And the two-dimensional portrayal of the white leaders of the at-risk program (they speak in sports metaphors, for instance) detracts from the more penetrating, insidious examples of racism (such as the conversation between Miss Troutman, the head of the program, and Keisha's mother) elsewhere in the novel. But the authentic interactions here far outweigh the missteps. The relationships among the women form the core of the novel: tender bedtime conversations between Keisha and her older sister, many touching scenes between Keisha and her mother, and the heroine's recollections of her grandmother ("As long as there's stars in the sky we gonna be all right. My grandma taught me that before she died and I believe her"). Keisha's rise to the top will keep readers enthralled. Ages 14-up. (Mar.)
(Publishers Weekly)

Hazel Rochman (Booklist)
Just cause we poor don't mean we born in sin." Growing up in the all-black projects, Keisha Wright, 14, is a straight-A student who plans to attend nearby Avery University's premed summer course. Instead, she is dumped in a charitable program for "at-risk" kids. In the end she does go to Avery, with the help of her strong, loving single-parent mom. In fact, through some decidedly awkward plot contrivances, just about all Keisha's dreams come true during one packed summer: she learns to swim and immediately becomes Olympic-class; discovers her long-lost dad; and finds a perfect boyfriend. Yet the bitter alternatives are there, too. Keisha knows she could be trapped like her mom, cleaning up at a motel; or like her older sister, a single mom at 16; or like her best friend, shot by a drug-dealing boyfriend. Prejudice is a daily reality, whether it's the country-club set that doesn't want black kids swimming in the pool, or Keisha's classmates who say her academic achievement means she wants to be white. What grips you in this story--as in the great books in the Read-alikes column, opposite--is the personal city voices that ring true: tough, honest, witty, grim, and beautiful. There's hope in the individuals who overcome the divides of class and race, but many teens will recognize how hard it is to get out. Category: Books for Older Readers--Fiction. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16. Gr. 7-12.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Deborah Stevenson (Bulletin)
Fourteen-year-old Keisha is smart, diligent, and determined, and she's aiming for medical school at a local Atlanta university, which offers a special program for gifted high-school students. Her high-school counselor can't see past Keisha's home in the projects, however, and instead enrolls her in a summer program for "at-risk children" ("She sound like she talking about some ants who don' showed up uninvited to her picnic"). Though initially furious, Keisha finds some benefits in the program: she makes a friend in tough classmate Betty, begins to get interested in Betty's older brother Malik, and, most significantly, discovers she's a natural swimmer and starts successfully competing. She's still facing the obstacle of payment for her deferred medical-school program, though, and she begins to suspect that her mother is dipping into the dishonorable and perhaps the illegal in order to obtain the money. Keisha is a forceful and attractive character, and her ebullient narration will pull readers right in. The author provides other evocative depictions, especially in Keisha's strict, fiercely supportive mother and in some other secondary characters, particularly the brash but ultimately self-defeating Betty; there's also some sharp insight into intraracial as well as interracial prejudice (as an underclass African American, Keisha gets as much condescension from middle-class blacks as from whites). The book falters in other areas, though, failing to make believable some of the more broadly drawn characters and Keisha's sudden leap from nonswimmer to Olympic hopeful, and events tumble into implausible melodrama at the end (Keisha's mother isn't taking drugs or dancing nude but doing a club's books, Keisha narrowly avoids a rape, her never-identified father is revealed to be a neighborhood activist, and her mother reveals the childhood trauma that ended up ruining her marriage). Keisha's vivid and witty voice, however, will remain memorable long after the book's close. (Reviewed from galleys) Review Code: Ad -- Additional book of acceptable quality for collections needing more material in the area. (c) Copyright 2001, The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois. 2001, Jackson/Atheneum, 240p, $16.00. Grades 9-12.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Susie Wilde (Children's Literature)
Evelyn Coleman ventures into new territory with her first young adult novel. The heroine, Keisha Wright, is a feisty, smart, black fourteen-year-old who is not willing to let poverty get in the way of her success. She has set her sights on becoming a doctor and follows a strenuous program that will put her on that path. By the second chapter of the book, however, she is pulled out of the college prep track to participate in an at-risk program and no longer qualifies for the college plan--standards she has struggled to meet. Keisha is no victim; she tells the principal, "I ain't the one at risk. You are." Keisha's mama lets her children know she's God's weapon on earth, sent here to protect you. Always there to support and soothe, she helps her daughter accept the at-risk program, and soon Keisha discovers a passion for swimming and a coach who sees possibilities of training her for the Olympics. Keisha learns from a good man in the neighborhood (who turns out to be her father) that being smart "ain't come from no white people...white people want people to believe they invented learning." Keisha also learns from first-hand experience and her perceptions are painful. Her team swims in an "all white exclusive club where the girls strutted around laughing and squealing like this was their world and they was just loaning us they air we breathed in it." Keisha feels inadequate because she's learned as a small child the silent language of what some white people are thinking just by how they're looking at you. She responds by winning the number one spot in every event. Coleman's examination of prejudice isn't color-coded. Keisha has to face her own bias when a wealthy black counselor and a white counselor invite her home to swim with them. Born in Sin has many thoughtful moments and engrossing struggles. The plot moves, the characters breathe, and though the ending is a bit too tidy, the book is Keisha's journey to release from preconceived notions. Coleman helps readers do the same. 2001, Atheneum, $16.00. Ages 11 up.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Claire Rosser (Kliatt)
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, March 2001: This is a complicated story about a smart African American girl dreaming of a better life, escaping poverty, her mother's dead-end jobs, and her crime-ridden neighborhood filled with people who have given up. Keisha is entering 10th grade, hoping to become a doctor, studying hard, making good grades. In the summer of this novel, she is a part of a program for young people "at risk," a term she resents. As the weeks unfold, she finds out just how "at risk" she really is and she is ready to give up her ambition, give up her dreams, as one crisis after another overtakes her family and friends. As interesting a character as the talented Keisha is, her mother, her best friend, and her older sister are also women whose lives and life choices are riveting. Readers see that Keisha's decisions actually are affected by the decisions these other women close to her have made. Each one has given up dreams; each one has made choices that perpetuate the self-hatred that causes Keisha to feel that somehow they are all "born in sin"--doomed to poverty, ignorance, and self-destruction. At the end of this novel, a catharsis occurs that clears away the secrets that have kept them from their dreams, and with this cleansing comes hope for Keisha. Some may feel that it is a too-happy ending; I for one was glad to hope for Keisha's future happiness. As to style: Keisha knows that sometimes her English is ungrammatical, but she knows correct English; this fact is reflected in the narrative. Other characters also use various forms of English, from street talk to middle-class standard, and Coleman juggles this well. There is some mild swearing; there is mention of molestation; there is an attempted rape--but the worse violence is the day-to-day struggle of Keisha, her family, her friends and neighbors--and the destruction of their lives and their dreams. Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Pulse, 265p., $5.99. Ages 12 to 18.
(PUBLISHER: Simon Pulse (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2003 c2001.)

Claire Rosser (Kliatt)
This is a complicated story about a smart African American girl dreaming of a better life, escaping poverty, her mother's dead-end jobs, and her crime-ridden neighborhood filled with people who have given up. Keisha is entering 10th grade, hoping to become a doctor, studying hard, making good grades. In the summer of this novel, she is part of a program for young people "at risk," a term she resents. As the weeks unfold, she finds out just how "at risk" she really is and she is ready to give up her ambition, give up her dreams, as one crisis after another overtakes her family and friends. As interesting a character as the talented Keisha is, her mother, her best friend, and her older sister are also women whose lives and life choices are riveting. Readers see that Keisha's decisions actually are affected by the decisions these other women close to her have made. Each one has given up dreams; each one has made choices that perpetuate the self-hatred that causes Keisha to feel that somehow they are all "born in sin"--doomed to poverty, ignorance, and self-destruction. At the end of this novel, a catharsis occurs that clears away the secrets that have kept them from their dreams, and with this cleansing comes hope for Keisha. Some may feel that it is a too-happy ending; I for one was glad to hope for Keisha's future happiness. As to style: Keisha knows that sometimes her English is ungrammatical, but she knows correct English; this fact is reflected in the narrative. Other characters also use various forms of English, from street talk to middle-class standard, and Coleman juggles this well. There is some mild swearing; there is mention of molestation; there is an attempted rape--but the worst violence is the day-to-day struggle of Keisha, her family, her friends and neighbors--and the destruction of their lives and their dreams. KLIATT Codes: JS--Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2001, Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, 234p, 00-025947, $16.00. Ages 13 to 18.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Janet L. Rose (Children's Literature)
Keisha wants to attend the premed program at Avery College but the high school guidance counselor believes black girls can't do anything but have babies, and she sends her to a camp for poor, at-risk kids. Keisha becomes a star swimmer, but now must pay to get into Avery. Her mother is determined that Keisha will attend college and has mysteriously started working at the Lion's Den where women earn money by selling themselves or drugs. Keisha's best friend, Betty, is also struggling and gets sucked into the world of drugs and false love, and tries to convince Keisha to give up and follow her destiny. Is Keisha doomed to a life of her past or will she be able to conquer her background and become an Olympic swimmer and medical student? The night Keisha follows her mother to the Lion's Den and gets beat up and almost raped by Betty's lover, she learns more secrets than she ever realized. Keisha's story is all too real, showing the struggle it takes to overcome her background and the environment and desperately try to hold on to her dreams. 2001, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.00. Ages 12 to 18.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Kirkus (Kirkus)
Keisha is 14; she's smart, she works hard, and she has a really good Mama. She knows who is trouble in the projects, where she lives, and she worries about her older sister, a mother at 17. In this complicated narrative, Keisha longs to apply to a pre-med program for high-school students at a nearby college. At first she's thwarted by well-meaning, but prissy and patronizing, counselors and teachers both white and black. But when she's forced to join the summer program for "at-risk" kids, she reveals a hidden talent--she's a natural swimmer. Keisha is unsparing in her views, and the drug dealer, the good coach, the na ve best friend, and the oreo are sketched in broad strokes. Family secrets, little brothers, how the simplest of gestures can be misinterpreted in the crucible of race, and the dubious and universal teen skill of utterly misconstruing the actions of adults all play a part here. Unfortunately, much of this seems forced, as though the author wanted to include everything she could think of that would teach a lesson. This requires a plot worthy of an afternoon soap with plot devices that stretch credibility. (Could any teen become Olympics-ready in less than a summer?) Keisha moves comfortably from trash talk to Standard English, thinking of herself as bilingual. She makes hard choices and stupid mistakes, but she's a character bigger than the page; most of the other players are hardly visible when she's on stage. 2001, Atheneum, $16.00. Category: Fiction. Ages 13 up. © 2001 Kirkus Reviews/VNU eMedia, Inc. All rights reserved.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

Beth Gilbert (VOYA)
With dreams of becoming a doctor, Keisha Wright longs to attend the summer pre-med program at Avery University. The competition is fierce, but Keisha knows that being an African American student--and hardworking--should bolster her chances. After being mistakenly labeled "at risk," however, her life takes an unexpected detour to a youth center, where she discovers an innate talent for competitive swimming. Living in the inner city housing projects taxes everyone, including Keisha's tough-as-nails mom, Carolyn, and her two siblings, older sister Rhenda, who is mother to year-old Tomika, and brother Punky. Struggling to make ends meet, Carolyn will go to any length necessary to raise the funds for Keisha's dreams--including keeping secrets from her children. Keisha's newfound competitive edge places her at odds with both old and new friends, as she also struggles to sort out her feelings for Malik, her best friend Betty's handsome and sensitive older brother. The characters' dialect is powerfully accurate. Young readers will feel Keisha's horror at hearing Betty's strung-out, alcoholic mother curse her own daughter for being "high yellow" and accuse her of stealing her boyfriend. Born in Sin succeeds at portraying the uphill climb of children from urban, single-parent families. Written in the tradition of Walter Dean Myers's Slam! (Scholastic, 1996/VOYA February 1997) and Ben Joravsky's Hoop Dreams (Turner, 1995), this book will fly off the shelves of urban high school libraries. VOYA CODES: 4Q 4P J S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2001, Atheneum/S & S, 240p, $16. Ages 12 to 18.
(PUBLISHER: Atheneum Books for Young Readers (New York:), PUBLISHED: 2001.)

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Publication Details:

  Publisher ISBN Notes
New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2001

Media Type: Language Material
234 p. ;
PZ7.C6746 ([Fic])
0689838336
9780689838330
0689855524
9780689855528
"A Richard Jackson book."
Publishers Weekly,

Media Type:

0689855524
9780689855528
9780689838330
0689838336

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