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In this winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor, bestselling and award-winning author Nikki Grimes uses free-verse poetry to powerfully tell the story of two boys, living in different times and lands, who both struggle with their faith as they watch their families fall apart. Sam’s father was always a strong Christian, and so when his dad leaves Sam and his mom for another woman, and then announces his new wife is pregnant, Sam feels abandoned—even by God. Ishmael knows he’s the first son of Abraham, and feels cherished by his father because of this position. But when visitors tell Abraham and his cruel wife, Sarah, that the real promised child will arrive soon, Ishmael is worried—and when Isaac arrives, Abraham becomes distant. Even Abraham’s God seems to be leaving Ishmael behind.Sam and Ishmael’s stories and strong poetic voices connect to create a powerful narrative structure in Grimes’ story of faith, heartache, and forgiveness.

Editorial Reviews
From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–In free-verse narratives, one biblical and one modern, teenagers Ishmael and Sam introduce themselves and relate their parallel problems with their fathers. Abraham is exiling Ishmael, son of his Second Wife, now that elderly Sarah has finally had a son. Sam’s dad has left Sam’s mother for a younger white woman. In Book One, Ishmael’s poems express his pain, confusion, and love: Half Chaldean./Half Egyptian./Half slave./Half free./Half loved./Half hated./Half blessed./All me. His story is set against the background of nomadic desert life, always in the context of God’s relations with, and plans for, him. Book Two gives present-day Brooklynite Sam his say: black man breaks/black woman’s heart/to marry white witch. He’s angry at his father, baffled by his mother, and resistant to his stepmother’s friendly overtures. Luckily he has friends and faith; prayer and a kiss from a potential girlfriend provide some peace. The biggest obstacle turns out to be the biggest help: his dad’s new son worms his way into his half-brother’s heart. Books Three and Four continue the first-person accounts: Abraham’s second son is clearly his favorite, and Sarah (a witch here) withdraws her love from Ishmael. Anger and jealousy threaten Ishmael’s relations with his father and with God. Sam’s father leaves him disillusioned and betrayed. The cross-play is effective, though Sam’s story is more vivid and engaging. References to God (not Jesus) layer another father into the mix. Religion is a key part of the healing, but even faith-challenged readers can admire and learn from these stories of struggle in vernacular verse.–Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George’s School, Newport, RI
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From the Back Cover
‘Both lyrical and powerful, Grimes’ unusual novel is mediation on faith and father-son relationships … Grimes’ commanding metaphors, authoritative style and complex characterizations are uniquely compelling.’—Publisher’s Weekly, starred review ‘The elemental connections and the hope (‘You made it / in the end / and so will I’) will speak to a wide audience.’—Booklist, starred review A guy whose father ripped his heart out too. Me and you, Ishmael, we’re brothers, two dark sons. Betrayed, lost, and isolated, the perspectives of two teenage boys—modern-day Sam and biblical Ishmael—unite over millennia to illustrate the power of forgiveness. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Booklist
*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. “Why does he have to run off? / To start some new family? / With her?” Teen-age Sam can barely contain his fury and hurt when his father gets married again, this time to a young white woman, who gives Sam a new baby brother. In a parallel, first-person narrative that draws on Genesis, young Ishmael and his mother, Hagar, rejected by Abraham, wander in the desert, after Sarah bears Abraham’s child. Grimes’ clear, free verse speaks with immediacy and lyricism about both boys’ feelings of betrayal and loss. The real focus, though, is on Sam, who complains to his high-school friends (“It’s my stepmom, man. / My dad wants me / to give her a chance / But I can’t”) and talks to and screams at God–until he’s able to ask God to help him let his anger go. The simple words eloquently reveal what it’s like to miss someone (“I’ve stopped expecting / his shadow in the hallway / his frame in the doorway”), but even more moving is the struggle to forgive and the affection each boy feels for the baby that displaces him. The elemental connections and the hope (“You made it / in the end / and so will I”) will speak to a wide audience. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Nikki Grimes is the recipient of the 2016 Virginia Hamilton Literary Award and the 2006 NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children. Her distinguished works include ALA Notable book What is Goodbye?, Coretta Scott King Award winner Bronx Masquerade, and Coretta Scott King Author Honor books Jazmin’s Notebook, Talkin’ About Bessie, Dark Sons, The Road to Paris, and Words with Wings. Creator of the popular Meet Danitra Brown, Ms. Grimes lives in California.
–This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Key Features
Format Trade Paperback
Language English
Intended Audience Young Adults
Publication Year 2017
Number of Pages 208 Pages

Item Length 8.3in.
Item Height 0.6in.
Item Width 5.4in.
Item Weight 6.6 Oz

Additional Product Features
Age Range 15-Up
Number of Volumes 1 Vol.
Author Nikki Grimes
Target Audience Young Adult Audience
Topic General
Dewey Decimal Fic
Dewey Edition 22
Genre Juvenile Fiction



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