While reading these five books I’m surprised how much I enjoyed all of them after all these years. The stories are timeless and the characters are likable (but we’ll get to them later). What you’ll notice from the offset is four out of the five of these books have a kind of compare and contrast thing going on. Something to set the stories up and show how they are being played via the teenagers as well as the adults and other side characters.
‘Lost & Found’s’ compare and contrast isn’t shown until the end of the book. Once you’ve read about Darcy and her father, you’ll quickly get that it’s about her losing him and him finding her, her sister and mother again. Darcy and her father aren’t the only ‘lost and found’ in the book. Her sister, Jamiee, throughout the book has behaved quite erratically, hanging out with bad boy Bobby Wallace, being distant from her sister, her mom and grandmother, taking abuse from Bobby and being forced to steal and take drugs (it is referred to in ‘ Someone To Love Me’). It was an emotional roller coaster for Jamiee which ends her in running away from home. Her father, Darcy and her friends find her and brings her home, hence her being lost and found.
‘A Matter of Trust’s’ Compare and Contrast runs parallel between Darcy’s relationship between Hakeem and Her mother’s relationship with her father.
Darcy’s Trust is that of jealousy. When Brisanna begins to show an interest in Hakeem, flirting with him and clearly trying to rub Darcy’s face in it. Darcy has to put her trust in Hakeem, hoping that he will not give into Brisanna’s advances.
Her Mother’s Trust is that Fear and Heartbreak. With Darcy and Jamiee’s father back into her life and trying his best to put right all the wrong he did in the years he was gone. Mother Wills’ fears that he has not changed his ways and is closing herself to the heartbreak she felt when he left her and their children for another woman.
The Compare and Contrast for ‘Someone To Love Me’ is Cindy and her Mother. It even pointed out at the end of the book. Cindy finds companionship with Bobby Wallace, her friends (Jamiee and Amber Lynn) are clearly unnerved by this considering what Bobby put Jamiee through when they were together (making Jamiee steal things for him, hitting her, even hinting that Jamiee took drugs with him). Cindy’s relationship with Bobby causes Cindy to push those closest to her away, dispute the warnings from her neighbour Harold Davis, his grandmother and her friends. In reverse this is the same thing Cindy’s mom is doing to her. Cindy warns her mother about her boyfriend’s behaviour but because she is completely blind by wanting to be with someone, she completely ignores Cindy and what he is really doing, this goes as far as her hiding drugs in the house for her boyfriends without even taking the time to question it.
Finally, ‘The Bully’ this is a three way tie of a comparison, Darrell is going through what he’s going through with Tyray, at the same time, his younger cousins Travis and Nathan are doing the same thing, Travis bullying his younger brother and in a quite clever way of putting a book in there Darrell compares his situation with the protagonist of 1987’s Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet, that is the most blatant way of saying High School is like a jungle, if I’ve ever seen one. These comparisons serve different purposes to Darrell,
First, his cousin’s behaviour makes Darrell realise that he does not have the stomach to see another person go through what he is with Tyray, giving him the chance to stand up for someone since he can’t stand up for himself. Once he does this Darrell begins to think to himself if he can stand up for his cousin why can’t he do the same for himself.
Second, Hatchet’s plays an important part of showing Darrell that anything is possible if you just believe in yourself and don’t roll over in times of conflict. The protagonist of Hatchet, Brian, like Darrell is thrown into a situation that he can not control and he can either fight or lay down and be defeated by what life has put in his way. Brian decides to fight and it is this courage and self belief that makes Darrell look at his situation and try to make a difference in his own life.
Put the two together, seeing his cousins re-enact what is going on with him and Tyray and his willingness to stop it and the lesson of don’t roll over when life kicks you down he learns from Hatchet, Darrell is able to defeat his bully.
Secrets in The Shadows, is the only story in this first five that doesn’t have a compare and contrast, Roylin does compare himself to the old man Tuttle, the bitter custodian for his building. This story is more about Roylin developing from his rude ways to become a better person much, in the same way Darrell Mercer develops in his own way and later Tyray Hobbs does too. We’ll talk about Roylin a little more when we get to the Characters.