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In this winner of the Coretta Scott King Honor, bestselling and award-winning author Nikki Grimes uses free-verse poetry to powerfully tell the story of two boys, living in different times and lands, who both struggle with their faith as they watch their families fall apart. Sam's father was always a strong Christian, and so when his dad leaves Sam and his mom for another woman, and then announces his new wife is pregnant, Sam feels abandoned---even by God. Ishmael knows he's the first son of Abraham, and feels cherished by his father because of this position. But when visitors tell Abraham and his cruel wife, Sarah, that the real promised child will arrive soon, Ishmael is worried---and when Isaac arrives, Abraham becomes distant. Even Abraham's God seems to be leaving Ishmael behind. Sam and Ishmael's stories and strong poetic voices connect to create a powerful narrative structure in Grimes' story of faith, heartache, and forgiveness.
mad. “You blew it, Dad,” I spit out. “This was our time. Our time!” PIECES OF TIME He kept his promise, came to my Valentine’s concert, waved to me from the back pew as my fingers flew across the piano, chasing J.D.’s guitar licks. Man, I was in the zone! Until I looked up, and he was gone. “I had to hurry home to tuck David in,” he tells me the next day. Like that made it better. Whatever. BLAME It’s not David’s fault. It’s not David’s fault. Here’s the deal, Lord. I’ll keep telling myself
that, if you’ll promise to rid me of those nasty nightmares where I drop-kick this kid into the stratosphere. Deal? ONE-WAY CONVERSATION At dinner, Mom flings a pea across the table. “No, you didn’t,” I say, and fling one back. We’re both cracking up when the phone rings. She hands the phone to me, her smile smothered by shadow, a solid clue about who’s on the other end. “Hey, Dad. Can’t. I’m busy. No. I’ve seen that film already. Home’s fine. School is school. Nothing special. What do you
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for showing loyalty to God, and I am man enough to shed tears and shed blood for the cause. Only, tell me, why is pain required? II. Last night, I saw no sleep. My waking dreams were filled with heat, and blood, and screams, familiar as the sound of my own voice. I rise and shovel my fear into the fire. Eyes half closed, I creep toward the tent where hot blades wait. My hands travel south of their own accord. I shield my jewels one final time, then duck inside the tent and disappear. III. We are
now. Mom spends the week chained to an eight-hour shift shuffling file folders. Then, before hoofing home, she clocks in at the library for a quick computer class. She’s on the fast track to make a decent living in Dad’s absence. “It’s all about the money,” she keeps telling me. “The way you’re growing, boy, you’re about to eat both of us out of house and home.” It’s a good sell, but I’m not buying. I know there’s more to it. The long hours she puts in leave little time for tears. VIDEO SLAVE I