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Being Clem (The Finding Langston Trilogy) Hardcover – August 3, 2021

4.7 out of 5 stars 41 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–7—This third and final novel in the "Finding Langston" trilogy continues the historical fiction narrative of three boys during World War II. Set in Chicago, this installment follows Clemson Thurber, Jr, who along with his mother and two sisters, navigates life after the Port Chicago Disaster in San Francisco. The catastrophe killed 320 Navy sailors, including Clem's father. Although Clem doesn't remember much about his father, who was a career sailor, he feels obligated to live up to his legacy. He was a strong man and a robust swimmer, whereas Clem is afraid to even get into the water. Clem is very intelligent, even skipping a grade, but his identity is tied to making his family proud. He begins a friendship with Lymon, a new kid who isn't afraid of anything. As Lymon gets a bit too carried away with his bullying and picks on another new kid, Langston, Clem is forced to choose between his old friend and this new boy who seems to understand him more than anyone else. Cline-Ransome skillfully brings the era of 1944 middle America to life, giving readers a glimpse of an often neglected part of history—growing up Black through the segregation and discrimination in the North during this time period. Cline-Ransome's Clem faces these challenges while, struggling to find his own path and reconcile his need to live up to his father's legacy. Readers will identify with Clem's struggles and come to like him for the exceptional young man he is: a devoted son and brother, and a true friend. VERDICT Exceptional characters and the chance to explore the previous volumes will leave readers wanting more. The historical aspect of the novel encourages further exploration of the era and a greater understanding of race in America during this time. This whole series deserves a place on library shelves everywhere.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Pub. Schs., OH

Review

★ "Cline-Ransome’s mastery of first person narration and her gift for dialogue present a close-up look at Chicago’s African American community in the 1940s. . . . While readers will miss this group of Cline-Ransome’s memorable characters, Clem’s story is a satisfying end to the series." —The Horn Book, Starred Review

★  "Like the other two entries, this novel with its parallel narrative addresses tough situations with care, including parental grief and depression, the threat of eviction, domestic abuse, the emotional and physical abuse of children, the impact of racism, and negotiating problematic friendships. A compelling work whose intriguing characters readers will miss when they turn the last page."
—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

★ "Cline-Ransome offers unusually perceptive portrayals of his family members, their interactions, and their strong, ongoing, but largely unspoken grief. Clem’s engaging first-person story, written with simplicity and emotional clarity, provides a rewarding conclusion to this historical fiction trilogy."
—Booklist, Starred Review

★ "[Lesa] Cline-Ransome skillfully brings the era of 1944 middle America to life, giving readers a glimpse of an often neglected part of history—growing up Black through the segregation and discrimination in the North during this time period. . . . ­Exceptional characters and the chance to explore the previous volumes will leave readers wanting more. The historical aspect of the novel encourages further exploration of the era and a greater understanding of race in America during this time. This whole series deserves a place on library shelves ­everywhere."
School Library Journal, Starred Review  

★ "In addition to exploring Clem’s relationships with his friends, Cline-Ransome offers unusually perceptive portrayals of his family members, their interactions, and their strong, ongoing, but largely unspoken grief. Clem’s engaging first-person story, written with simplicity and emotional clarity, provides a rewarding conclusion to this historical fiction trilogy."
Booklist, Starred Review

"Cline-Ransome incorporates events of mid-century American history so seamlessly, young readers may not realize they're absorbing real historical facts. . . . Works beautifully as a stand-alone or as a companion to the earlier novels in the trilogy."
—Shelf Awareness

"In this final title of Cline-Ransome’s historical fiction trilogy, Clem steps fully into the limelight, and the Thurbers’ story sensitively explores another facet the Black community on Chicago’s South Side during the 1940s, as government bias against Black servicemen causes a proud family to lose its tenuous grip on prosperity."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Holiday House (August 3, 2021)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 256 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0823446042
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0823446049
  • Reading age ‏ : ‎ 8 - 12 years
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 900L
  • Grade level ‏ : ‎ 3 - 7
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 12 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.68 x 0.91 x 8.52 inches
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 41 ratings

About the author

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Lesa Cline-Ransome’s first book was the biography Satchel Paige, an ALA Notable Book and a Bank Street College “Best Children’s Book of the Year. She later created a number of picture books including Quilt Alphabet, Major Taylor: Champion Cyclist, Young Pele, Words Set Me Free, My Story, My Dance, and Germs: Fact and Fiction, Friends and Foes. Her verse biography of Harriet Tubman, Before She Was Harriet, was nominated for an NAACP image award, and received a Coretta Scott King Honor for Illustration. Her newest picture biography is Game Changers: The Story of Venus and Serena Williams. Finding Langston, her debut middle grade novel is a 2018 School Library Journal Best Book, Kirkus Reviews Best Middle Grade Novel and New York Public Library Best Book of 2018.

Lesa’s books have received numerous honors and awards including NAACP Awards , Kirkus Best Books, ALA Notable, CBC Choice Awards, two Top 10 Sports Books for Youth, a Christopher Award, Jane Addams Award and an Orbis Pictus Recommended Book. She lives in the Hudson Valley region of New York with her husband, and frequent collaborator, illustrator James Ransome. Visit her at www.lesaclineransome.com.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
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