Black Boy Joy has become a fashionable trend of late but has always been a thing. This book is one of my new favorites and yes although it starts with a sad premise, the main protagonist is resilient and most importantly he has a village that surrounds him with love and lifts him up.
Isaiah Dunn's father has recently passed away and we meet him as he, his mother and his adorable little sister are still coming to terms with this. Isaiah has a good friend, Sneaky, and the two spend hours cutting up and getting on Sneaky's older brother's nerves. Isaiah's mom however is having a hard time with coping and Isaiah tries as hard as a 10 year old kid can to help her out.
Conflict is never far away from a boy like Isaiah and in school, he is sat next to a girl called Angel who, for some reason doesn't like him. When the two eventually butt heads, instead of suspension, they are made to do an alternative conflict resolution which eventually gets to the root of their disagreement.
One positive that I noted in this novel were the many positive role male models that came into Isaiah's life to lend him support and advice. Role models are especially important for youth of any age but especially for black youth. Another positive I noted was the power of words. Isaiah's father kept books of poems and Isaiah spends hours poring over the books and eventually writes his own poetry. Also, one of his safe spaces outside school is the library.
Black Boy Joy (and Black Girl Joy as well, Charlie is one of the most joyful supporting characters I have seen in some time) can come in different forms and just like in any family, sometimes you need to go through rocky patches in order to get to the sweet stuff on the other side. I read this book to my very discerning 10 year old and he lay awake listening to me read anxious to find out what would happen to Isaiah. There were also a few points for us to stop and discuss as well. Some read alikes are Free Lunch by Alex Ogle, I'm Ok by Patti Kim and l Curtis and Paper Things by Jennifer Jacobson.