Until he met Elijah, 16-year-old Paul never considered how one person’s decisions and actions might affect the entire community.
Paul DuPree has taken on two jobs: work in a soup kitchen and the required mentoring of a young basketball player. At the soup kitchen, he meets Elijah Jones, the project’s driving force and resident philosopher. Elijah sees himself as doing more than filling bellies. He believes he is fulfilling the “social contract.” As Elijah trains Paul, he urges him to consider his ideas. Paul is skeptical but tries to apply the concepts to questions about his recently deceased father and the teen mom he is mentoring. Paul never had much of a relationship with his father, described as “forty-two-year-old Richard DuPree, underemployed ex-felon, ex-drug addict, father of one.” Keisha, high-school dropout and mother of a little girl, needs Paul’s help to fulfill her dream of professional basketball. She resists Elijah’s ideas. “Because the rules don’t work for everybody, and so they don’t go for everybody.” Myers, the recently named National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, has crafted a provocative exploration of social philosophy and shows how it can resonate in the lives of the young and the disadvantaged. Paul’s quest for understanding seems heartfelt and real, though there are times when the story slows down as characters discuss their views.
A novel that will provide teachers and others a relevant tool for introducing and discussing a complex subject. (Fiction. 14 & up)