Masquerade is a book written by Nikki Grime...
A Review of Bronx Masquerade by Nikki Grimes
Masquerade is a book written by Nikki Grimes, one of her vast
collection of children’s books. Nikki Grimes was born and brought up in New
York and started her writing as young as six years of age. Her poems did not,
however, come to light until the age of thirteen when she read some of them at
a local public library event. Other than poetry, Grime is also known to write
adult verses for magazines such as Today’s Christian Woman, Image, Essence,
Book Links and Journal of Arts & Religion. Due to her contribution to literature,
Grime has received awards among them the Coretta Scott King Author Award in
2003, NCTE Award for Excellence in Poetry for Children and Laura Ingalls Wilder
Medal this year (Penguin publishers).
Masquerade is a book based on poems of eighteen high school
students. The book is set on a high school poetry class where the teacher
starts an open-mike program every month but due to the passion students show,
the teacher increases the open-mike program to every Friday of the week. The
program begins with Wesley a student who writes a poem instead of the essay as
directed by the teacher. The students identify with his poem and therefore see
it as an opportunity to express themselves removing their “Masquerades” without
the fear of being judged. Through the open mike program, the eighteen students
pour out their issues at home, the confusion in life and their hopes for the
future a vulnerable position to put oneself.
Grime artistically expresses different
personality in one book which is an exceptional work of art. Her integration of
self-narration and expression though poem makes the book personal for anyone
reading it as one can relate to some if not all of the characters. Her ability
to make it sound like eighteen different students telling their own stories
brings out the effect where one relates directly with the characters other than
in most cases where one relates with the author of the book. Grime use simple
English which does not include the sophisticated poetry writing styles
following rhyme and other aspects of poetry. Instead, the poems are just a
clear expression of one’s feelings using simple language and with which one can
read and understand the content other than try to analyze the style of writing.
In a way this would inspire a reader to try and write their own, expressing
deeper meaning without having to write in elegant style.
One thing that stood out about the book
is that even though the students talk about the teacher, he never gets to speak
for himself, we only learn about him through the student’s mentions. Although
Grime made the book sound like it was meant for the students where she does not
give the teacher a chance to express himself, the book has also given one
character more attention compared to others. Tyrone gets to react to each of
the poems through a stream of thoughts while us none of the other students get
to do the same.
The book is well written with a glimpse
of every student’s life followed by a poem they compose expressing themselves
and the situation in which their life is, currently. Other than that, the book
expresses problems of eighteen different teenagers ranging from uncomfortable
homes where dad is a drunk to life conditions like physical abuse a teenager
should not experience or be exposed to. The book expresses life challenges
every teenager faces, one that determines one’s identity. As one reads through
each and every student’s story, one gets to see how difficult life can be yet
the students still push on and attend classes. The book in a way encourages people
not to give up no matter the situation they face. The book brings out a
connection between the characters and the reader. It is a book that every
teenager can relate to and therefore I would recommend anyone to read it.