Richard Wright Rite of Passage

ISBN 13: 9780060234201

Rite of Passage

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9780060234201: Rite of Passage

When fifteen-year-old Johnny Gibbs is told that he is really a foster child, he runs off into the streets of Harlem and meets up with a gang that wants him to participate in a mugging

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About the Author:

Richard Wright won international renown for his powerful and visceral depiction of the black experience. He stands today alongside such African-American luminaries as Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, and Toni Morrison, and two of his books, Native Son and Black Boy, are required reading in high schools and colleges across the nation. He died in 1960.

From Publishers Weekly:

Very much in the vein of Wright's classic Native Son and Black Boy , this posthumously published novella provides a brutal depiction of conditions facing young African American men in 1940s Harlem. Fifteen-year-old Johnny Gibbs, a successful student and generally good kid, is suddenly confronted with the revelation that the family he has been living with is not his own, but a foster family; Johnny's biological mother has been confined to a mental institution, his father is unknown. Rather than let the "City folks" from the welfare department place him elsewhere, the boy runs away and hooks up with a gang of violent misfit teens. Johnny proves his manhood by winning a vicious fight with Baldy, the gang's leader and, soon after, by taking part in a mugging. Such events are not redeemed in a tidy ending, however, and readers, along with the protagonist, are left to ponder how a troubled society has shaped the moral codes--if they exist--of young people. Although its portrayals of crime, alienation and adolescent disillusionment remain highly relevant, contemporary readers may shy away from some of the dated situations here (for example, Johnny knows nothing about sex). And today's urban slang makes Wright's "He's a fence, see? . . ." sound like a tame Jimmy Cagney movie. A substantial afterword by Princeton professor Arnold Rampersad places Rite in the context of Wright's other writings and experiences. While significant as an addition to the author's oeuvre, this slim volume may not pack enough punch for YA readers. Ages 12-up.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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