BookPage Children's Top Pick, September 2017
“Down, tears. Down! Hold it together. You are Patina Jones. Daughter of Beverly Jones. No junk. No punk.” Twelve-year-old Patina (Patty) has a lot she could cry about, a lot to hold together. Her father died in his sleep a while back, and her mother lost both legs to “the sugar,” so her Uncle Tony and his white wife (called Momly) are raising Patty, who takes care of her little sister, Maddy. And now, Patty must navigate the halls of a new school. In Patina, she shares her smart, bold, razor-sharp black-girl takes on the rich, white-girl world of Chester Academy, where you only stand a chance as long as your face is always selfie-ready.
Patty feels she has no chance at Chester Academy, though she learns that her view of the world is not always right, and her story becomes less about fitting in than about learning to see people in a more generous light.
But what Patty is completely clear about is, in a life of loss, she has track. To her, running is “a way to shut people up. A way to . . . I guess, sometimes even shut myself up. Just turn it all off. Leave everything, all the hurting stuff, the unregular stuff that seemed so regular to me, in the dust.” She becomes the anchor on her relay team, signifying how she, with the help of Coach, is beginning to think beyond herself and be part of a team. “They needed me. Not just my legs. But my support. My energy. We needed each other.”
As in Ghost, Patina’s story ends before the finish line of the big race. But each novel in this projected four-book series passes the baton to the next, so eager readers will just have to await the third installment.