The overarching design template of this novel is that of family. This is a character-driven story, which gives the reader a slice of household life, with Kenny’s eyes, together he comes to understand the strength that lies in familial love.

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The reader deserve to see that love in between the Watsons in many ways transparent the novel. Joetta cries and also foil’s Wilona’s punishment for Byron after the is captured lighting matches in the upstairs restroom (Curtis, 2013, pp. 68-74). Byron rescues Kenny from a near-death drowned experience, and weeps in relief while the embraces his small brother (pp. 177-179). Daniel cd driver from Flint to Birmingham without preventing to rest, due to the fact that he to know it will please Wilona to conserve the money castle would have spent on a hotel (pp. 130-155). Wilona sends extra sandwiches in Kenny’s lunch once she learns he is share his food through Rufus (p. 144). The most poignant illustration that the power of family, though, comes from Kenny’s musings at the finish of the book, once he realizes the true magic exist in the people who surround him:

“Maybe were in the method your dad smiled in ~ you…Maybe they to be in the means you construed your mother wasn’t trying to do you the laughing “sock” of the whole school…Maybe there to be genies in the way your sister would certainly throw a stupid tea party because that you…Maybe there to be magic strength hiding in the way your older brother made all the worst thugs in the community play basketball with you…And I’m sure there was an angel in Birmingham once Grandma Sands wrapped her tiny arms round every one of the weird Watsons and also said, ‘My fambly, my beautiful, beautiful fambly” (pp. 204-205).



The story largely focuses on Kenny, and—through Kenny’s eyes—on Byron. Both guys grow and also mature throughout the story. Byron think he is mature in ~ the beginning of the story. In ~ the age of thirteen, the is “too cool” because that the rest of the family, and rebels every time he has actually a chance. As soon as he is taken native his environment, however, and also brought come Birmingham, he is transformed. Quite than continuing his rebellion, he shows true maturity by promptly evolving into a an ext respectful, integrated member of the family, who at some point plays the much-needed role of torture to Kenny.

Kenny matures a little bit differently. In ~ the beginning of the story, he shows his childish nature by reveling in methods to enraged his brother, and more or less being obedient. As soon as he is taken indigenous his atmosphere to Birmingham, he sees Byron pass the end of the rebellious phase, and also Kenny procedures up to take his place, turning his ago on his siblings and rushing off to literally swimming in danger waters. After the bombing, Kenny has a crisis of identification as he berates himself for not being as strong as Byron, and also for struggling with the unfairness of that all. In the end, Bryon help Kenny move through this crisis, explaining, “Kenny, things ain’t ever going to be fair…But you just gotta understand that that’s the way it is and also keep on steppin’” (p. 203). Kenny comes out of his crisis a various person, and also while the still believes in magic—the magic of family and love—his expertise of the people is no much longer that of one oblivious child, yet that of one hope-filled adult instead.


The design template of differentiate is solid throughout the novel—perhaps appropriately, because that a book set during the polite Rights efforts of the 1960s. Kenny is lucky to have actually not personally experienced lot race distinguish in Flint, so the reader—experiencing the story through his eyes—comes come an awareness that racism as Kenny does. The closest Kenny involves seeing gyeongju discrimination in Flint is once the neighbor, Mrs. Davidson, bring Joetta a doll the she think looks favor the tiny girl. Joetta politely accepts the doll, yet is perplexed that it is white, and also that Mrs. Davidson doesn’t seem to have a realistic view of Joetta’s illustration (p. 126-129). This is a naïve—if you re welcome intended—act of racial discrimination ~ above the part of Mrs. Davidson.

Far much less kind is the battle at the orgasm of the story, perpetrated by upset white men versus the black color school-aged girls who they resent. This is Kenny’s first brush v actual racism, and also he is traumatized by it. He can’t wrap his mind about the motivation behind the attack, and also Byron make the efforts to explain it to him, saying, “I think they simply let dislike eat lock up and also turn them into monsters” (p. 200). Kenny has to pertained to grips with the senselessness behind this extreme kind of racial discrimination, in order to go back to living.

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There is discrimination beyond race, as well. The youngsters at the elementary institution discriminate versus Rufus and Cody Fry due to the fact that they are poor, and have solid southern accents. The kids also discriminate against Kenny because of his lazy eye, and also amazing analysis ability. Wilona also discriminates versus Mr. Robert, simply due to the fact that he is no her father. Personalities constantly do judgements based upon superficial characteristics, and it is just when people look more deeply in ~ one another that discrimination is overcome—as as soon as Kenny it s okay to understand Rufus, past his accent and also lack the money, because that example. This focus on discrimination and also overcoming it really brings the environment of time period alive because that the reader, in a way that is really appropriate and also natural because that the ten-year-old narrator, despite his naiveté the the civil Rights motion at the story’s beginning. The reader sees the story with Kenny’s eyes, and feels the discrimination that Kenny experiences, only coming to be “aware” the the polite Rights problems as Kenny himself does.