Top critical review
If you truly want to begin to have conversations about race, pick another book
Reviewed in the United States on August 12, 2018
I read this book as a follow up to Jewell Parker Rhodes "Ghost Boys." In short, "Breakout" is the rated G, 3rd grader-friendly version of books with racial themes that are becoming more and more popular in YA novels (and rightfully so). From the very first page, I waited for Nora, Lizzie, and Elodie dig deep into the problems that go beyond the prisoner escape in their community. Yes, Messner uses words like "racial profiling" and "racial bias", but we never see the characters in this novel think and reflect upon their implications.Nora's brother is the only one who really tries to grapple with race, but already has to look forward to escaping Wolf Creek in order to have those tough conversations. Even at the end of the book, when Nora circles back around to an earlier dinner conversation revolving around the prison system being "broken and racially biased" (426), her father (the adult) is unwilling to truly reflect on the happenings of the entire novel (that he was directly involved in) and avoids having a real conversation. With the plethora of deep, thought-provoking and conversation starting YA novels currently available, Breakout will not have a space in my read aloud selection in the classroom this year.