It Doesn't Take a Genius, by

But soon he's hatched a plan to get his summer with Luke back--he sends in an application to the camp, and amazingly he's accepted with a scholarship!  His mother is furious that he went behind her back like this, but still it's a great opportunity for him (and for her, a widowed mother studying for medical school, it will be a welcome chance to focus)....and so Emmett gets to go.

Emmett has always known he's pretty darn smart; he's got a long list of academic achievements and debate club wins. The kids at Camp DuBois, though, have taken achievement up several more notches, and Emmett quickly feels utterly inadequate.  Luke wants nothing to do with him, and indeed, his job responsibilities don't leave him time for giving his little brother special attention.  But almost despite himself, Emmett makes friends, discovers his talent for dance is greater than he thought, and starts to grow up.  

He also learns tons about famous Black people, the cultures of the African Diaspora, and is forced, as part of the planned curriculum of the camp, to think hard and seriously about what it means to be Black (though the book doesn't include specifics of current events).  The way all this information was presented will especially appeal to smart kids who like to know things--I bet, based on my own reaction, that they will feel, like the kids at camp, appreciation and interest, rather than a feeling of being lectured to.

My one regret is that Emmett's time at camp is such a whirl of experiences and learning and food and fellow campers and movie making and dance practice and the disaster of swimming lessons etc. that there's no down time for either him, or the reader, to take a break to think and process.  Though a lot of the goings-on are presented in a light-hearted, even humorous, way, Emmett could have used more thinking and processing.  He is rather selfish and thoughtless at times, and even does something really cruel.  Though this is believable, it was disappointing, but Emmett's welcome growth by the end of the book mostly makes up for it.  

Apart from that reservation, I just turned the pages quickly, learning and enjoying this extravaganza of Black excellence alongside the campers!  

(This was written as a sequel to the movie, Boy Genius, which I have not seen, and so I can't speak to how it works as such).

(review of ARC provided by the book's publicist)

1 comment:

  1. This book is getting a lot of buzz, and it is already on my TBR list. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.


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