Thursday, October 18, 2018

Book Review: Lu by Jason Reynolds (2018)

Lu, the co-captain of the Defenders track team and runner of the 400 meter dash, has a lot of talent as an athlete and a lot of attitude to back it up. Often seen wearing gold chains and diamond earrings, Lu, whose parents got him into sports to help him feel confident in his albino skin, seems to have a surplus of self esteem. It's about to be a lot harder for Lu to maintain this "swagger," however, both because of family issues (his mom's expecting a new baby, and his dad is trying to make amends for the bad decisions of his own youth) and because Coach has challenged him to take on hurdles, which secretly scare him. 

After Ghost, which is the first and most memorable title in this series, Lu is the second best installment. Whereas Patina's voice took a while to establish itself, and Sunny's strange speech patterns kept him at a distance, Lu comes completely to life in the first few paragraphs of this book and remains so for the duration. The exchanges of dialogue with his parents and teammates, his ruminations about what it will be like to finally have a sibling, and his concerns over interactions with a former friend all give a well-rounded sense of Lu's personality, and the reader becomes completely invested in his well-being and success. The fact that Lu's father and Coach have a connected past also makes Lu the ideal narrator to conclude the series.

And speaking of ending the series, this book really brings everything full circle in a satisfying way. Though the story belongs to Lu from beginning to end, there are some moments with the entire team near the end of the book that bring the four-book arc to a very fitting resolution that shows not just how Lu has changed, but how the whole team has grown together as a unit over the course of the series. I'll miss reading new installments,  but the story of these characters absolutely feels complete, and I think Reynolds nailed the ending. (Thanks to Edelweiss and Simon & Schuster for the digital ARC!) 

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