Jason Reynolds (text), and Selom Sunu (illustrations) Patina (Track #2), Knights of Ltd, August 2023, 256 pp., RRP $16.99 (pbk), ISBN 9781999642556
Patty Jones is twelve years old, her sister Maddy is six. Their father died suddenly six years ago, and their mother has had both legs amputated after complications from diabetes. They are being raised by their mother’s white aunty, Emily, and her father’s brother Tony. Emily is ‘Mumly’, and she and Tony loves these kids to bits. And it’s a good thing Patty and Maddy know how to braid each other’s hair, otherwise they’d have the most unruly hair in the universe.
There is one thing Patty loves to do and one thing she is definitely good at — running. She is an 800-metre specialist, and can’t abide losing to anyone. School has its challenges, partly because the girls at her private ‘academy’ seem to be snobs and not much interested in learning. This sparky novel of growing up really gets going when Patty has to learn to run with her less-fast friends in a relay race. It will be like dancing, it will be like paying full attention to each other, and it will be like sharing and passing-on energy. It will be a challenge, but perhaps these girls can manage to put their feelings into perspective, work for each other, and maybe, just maybe give winning a shake.
Jason Reynolds is on song in this little novel of inspiration and wisdom. It opens a world to its reader and validates the lives of irrepressible twelve year olds. Recommended for readers nine to thirteen.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy