The narrative begins on a dusty Tennessee day in 1965. That’s the day Eddie Russel’s preacher father drops a bomb. Eddie and his sister Lakeesha will be part of a small group of black high school students to integrate the local high school for all whites. For soccer star Eddie, this is not good news. “Everybody wants us to go to a school for whites, we will go,” he said. “But don’t expect us to be heroes.” From that beginning, Eddie, Lakeesha, and their friends, Lethe Jefferson and Rochelle Perry, embark on a roller coaster ride full of racial slurs, angry looks, and just plain animosity. From the coach who doesn’t want a black player, to the assumption that students must be behind and need to do make-up work, to those who ignored him, outright animosity and grudging approval, the four of them find themselves fighting a uphill battle for acceptance. As Eddie runs around to allow the white boys to shower after soccer practice in the eyes of the teacher directed at him, not finding his and gasping, the first days of school are not easy. Cafeteria workers who were careful not to touch their black hands, reluctantly building on unsuspected teachers and fellow students, were ignored, left outside soccer game after soccer game, always feeling fear and decisions to be made.
Touchdown offers the reader a glimpse into the confusion many students, black and white, faced during 1965 when they faced changes in their lives when the law required that schools be segregated. Athletes, straight students none of that matters, they all know they’re dirty, cheat and can’t compete with white students. Everyone knows they are fanatics, they hate everyone who is not white and they have no compassion. Facing the outright anger and hatred of many teaching staff, as well as their peers, is something few of us can honestly say we’ve experienced. Integration forced blacks and whites to look within themselves and find the commonality of humanity … It was not always an easy struggle. Writer Phillips has portrayed well the struggle for black and white alike as they come to understand themselves, the social mores of the time, and the change in society.
Written primarily in the third person, the writer Phillips draws the reader into the story early on and holds the reader’s interest as we follow the ups and downs of four young men facing more stress than most of us ever face in our lives.
Mr. Touchdown is an outstanding read filled with resonant, illustrative language used to forge an animated teenage world filled with unfair gym teacher and workshop classes, band rattling, cheer rallies, and pom poms. The gusty dialogue, fast-paced plot, and frankly astonishing twists and turns rooted in revolutionary social change that were an integral part of our country during the 1960s are presented in a readable manner that is sure to attract the attention of middle school and middle school readers. high school. Writer Phillips has managed to balance the vivid depiction of the community undercurrent, angst between generations, personal struggle, adolescent angst, and violence against early understanding and acceptance by adults and fellow students. From outright anger to false acceptance and real understanding, teachers are credibly portrayed.
Racism, segregation, separate and never the same, are presented in harsh words and harshly. The writer has produced a work of fiction based on historical events. Eddie is a character that the reader can relate to both for his struggle as a young black man and for his struggle as simply a teenager in an adult world.
Excellent choice for the classroom, enjoyable reading bookshelf, homeschooling library, and middle school to high school curriculum.
I enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.
Powerful and thought-provoking reading … Recommended … 4 stars
Gender: Young Adult
Author: Lyda Phillips
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