BORN IN SIN by evelyn coleman


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 14 & up
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Keisha is 14; she's smart, she works hard, and she has a really good Mama. She knows who is trouble in the projects, where she lives, and she worries about her older sister, a mother at 17. In this complicated narrative, Keisha longs to apply to a pre-med program for high-school students at a nearby college. At first she's thwarted by well-meaning, but prissy and patronizing, counselors and teachers both white and black. But when she's forced to join the summer program for "at-risk" kids, she reveals a hidden talent—she's a natural swimmer. Keisha is unsparing in her views, and the drug dealer, the good coach, the naïve best friend, and the oreo are sketched in broad strokes. Family secrets, little brothers, how the simplest of gestures can be misinterpreted in the crucible of race, and the dubious and universal teen skill of utterly misconstruing the actions of adults all play a part here. Unfortunately, much of this seems forced, as though the author wanted to include everything she could think of that would teach a lesson. This requires a plot worthy of an afternoon soap with plot devices that stretch credibility. (Could any teen become Olympics-ready in less than a summer?) Keisha moves comfortably from trash talk to Standard English, thinking of herself as bilingual. She makes hard choices and stupid mistakes, but she's a character bigger than the page; most of the other players are hardly visible when she's on stage. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-689-83833-6
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Atheneum
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2001


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