Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Boy

Macmillan Young Listeners. May 2021. 456p. $28.99. ISBN 9781250802132.
Gr 6-10–For audiences familiar with the former NFL linebacker’s viral YouTube series, Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, or those who might have already listened to the Acho-narrated audiobook of the same title, be assured that Landon Woodson’s performance in this young readers edition is just as affecting. Divided into three parts—“Me and You,” “Us and Them,” “We”—Acho presents concise, thoughtful chapters that combine history, contemporary context, lessons and how-tos, even managing to acknowledge COVID-19 with “the longest-lasting pandemic in this country is a virus not of the body but of the mind, and it’s called racism.” He’s got antidotes to share. Youthful and energetic, Woodson effortlessly adapts from the solemnity of exposing the horrors of enslavement, from breaking down challenging concepts like implicit bias and cultural appropriation, to encouraging all the ways of allyship.
VERDICT Never pedantic, always heartening, Woodson is an excellent stand-in to amplify Acho’s uncomfortable conversations.

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