The overarching layout of this novel is the of family. This is a character-driven story, which provides the leader a part of family life, with Kenny’s eyes, as he involves understand the strength that lies in familial love.

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The reader deserve to see the love between the Watsons in numerous ways transparent the novel. Joetta cries and foil’s Wilona’s punishment for Byron after the is recorded lighting matches in the upstairs bathroom (Curtis, 2013, pp. 68-74). Byron rescues Kenny native a near-death drowning experience, and also weeps in relief while the embraces his tiny brother (pp. 177-179). Daniel drives from Flint to Birmingham without stopping to rest, due to the fact that he knows it will please Wilona to conserve the money lock would have spent on a hotel (pp. 130-155). Wilona sends extra sandwiches in Kenny’s lunch when she learns that is sharing his food with Rufus (p. 144). The most poignant illustration of the power of family, though, originates from Kenny’s musings in ~ the finish of the book, when he realizes that true magic exist in the world who surround him:

“Maybe to be in the method your father smiled in ~ you…Maybe they were in the means you taken your mommy wasn’t make the efforts to make you the laughing “sock” of the entirety school…Maybe there were genies in the means your sister would throw a stupid tea party for you…Maybe there to be magic powers hiding in the method your older brother made all the worst thugs in the ar play basketball with you…And I’m sure there to be an point of view in Birmingham as soon as Grandma Sands sheathe her little arms round every one of the weird Watsons and said, ‘My fambly, mine beautiful, beautiful fambly” (pp. 204-205).



The story largely concentrates on Kenny, and—through Kenny’s eyes—on Byron. Both boys grow and also mature transparent the story. Byron thinks he is mature at the beginning of the story. At the age of thirteen, the is “too cool” for the rest of the family, and rebels every time he has actually a chance. As soon as he is taken native his environment, however, and brought to Birmingham, the is transformed. Fairly than continuing his rebellion, he mirrors true maturity by promptly evolving into a more respectful, integrated member that the family, who eventually plays the much-needed duty of adviser to Kenny.

Kenny matures a bit differently. At the start of the story, he shows his childish nature by reveling in opportunities to enraged his brother, and an ext or less being obedient. Once he is taken indigenous his setting to Birmingham, that sees Byron pass the end of the rebellious phase, and also Kenny procedures up to take it his place, transforming his back on his siblings and also rushing off to literally swim in danger waters. ~ the bombing, Kenny has a situation of identification as the berates self for no being as solid as Byron, and also for struggling through the unfairness of that all. In the end, Bryon helps Kenny relocate through this crisis, explaining, “Kenny, points ain’t ever going to be fair…But you simply gotta know that that’s the means it is and keep on steppin’” (p. 203). Kenny comes the end of his situation a various person, and also while the still to trust in magic—the magic that family and love—his expertise of the civilization is no longer that of one oblivious child, yet that of one hope-filled adult instead.


The layout of discrimination is solid throughout the novel—perhaps appropriately, because that a book set during the civil Rights initiatives of the 1960s. Kenny is lucky to have actually not personally experienced lot race distinguish in Flint, therefore the reader—experiencing the story v his eyes—comes come an awareness of racism as Kenny does. The the next Kenny concerns seeing gyeongju discrimination in Flint is as soon as the neighbor, Mrs. Davidson, brings Joetta a doll that she think looks favor the little girl. Joetta politely accepts the doll, but is perplexed the it is white, and also that Mrs. Davidson no seem to have a realistic view of Joetta’s appearance (p. 126-129). This is a naïve—if you re welcome intended—act of racial discrimination top top the part of Mrs. Davidson.

Far much less kind is the battle at the orgasm of the story, perpetrated by angry white men against the black school-aged girls who they resent. This is Kenny’s an initial brush with actual racism, and also he is traumatized through it. He can’t wrap his mind about the an ideas behind the attack, and also Byron tries to define it to him, saying, “I think they simply let dislike eat them up and also turn them into monsters” (p. 200). Kenny has to concerned grips through the senselessness behind this extreme form of racial discrimination, in order to go back to living.

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There is discrimination past race, as well. The youngsters at the elementary institution discriminate versus Rufus and Cody Fry since they room poor, and have solid southern accents. The kids additionally discriminate versus Kenny because of his lazy eye, and also amazing reading ability. Wilona also discriminates versus Mr. Robert, simply since he is not her father. Characters constantly make judgements based on superficial characteristics, and also it is only when people look more deeply at one another that differentiate is overcome—as as soon as Kenny gets to know Rufus, past his accent and also lack that money, for example. This emphasis on discrimination and overcoming it really brings the setting of time duration alive for the reader, in a means that is really appropriate and natural for the ten-year-old narrator, regardless of his naiveté that the polite Rights motion at the story’s beginning. The reader sees the story v Kenny’s eyes, and feels the discrimination the Kenny experiences, only ending up being “aware” that the polite Rights worries as Kenny self does.