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The Problem with the Other Side
Cover of The Problem with the Other Side
The Problem with the Other Side
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A searing YA debut that follows the joys, complexities, and heartbreaks of an interracial romance between high school sophomores that blossoms during a volatile school election Uly would rather...
A searing YA debut that follows the joys, complexities, and heartbreaks of an interracial romance between high school sophomores that blossoms during a volatile school election Uly would rather...
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Description-

  • A searing YA debut that follows the joys, complexities, and heartbreaks of an interracial romance between high school sophomores that blossoms during a volatile school election

    Uly would rather watch old Westerns with his new girlfriend, Sallie, than get involved in his school's politics—why focus on the “bad” and “ugly” when his days with Sallie are so good? His older sister Regina feels differently. She is fed up with the way white school-body presidential candidate Leona Walls talks about Black students. Regina decides to run against Leona . . . and convinces Uly to be her campaign manager.
    Sallie has no interest in managing her sister's campaign, but how could she say no? After their parents' death, Leona is practically her only family. Even after Leona is accused of running a racist campaign that targets the school's students of color—including Sallie's boyfriend, Uly—Sallie wants to give her sister the benefit of the doubt. But how long can she ignore the ugly truth behind Leona's actions? 

    Together and apart, Uly and Sallie must navigate sibling loyalty and romantic love as the campaign spirals toward a devastating conclusion.
    CW: Acts of racism and bigotry, racist language, and gun violence are portrayed in this novel.

Excerpts-

  • From the book Uly

    I’m in love because a clown got handcuffed to a nun.
         Last November I was in this dumb-ass school play called Hostages and Hot Plates where this rich Connecticut girl holds a whole restaurant hostage until her parents agree to let her marry this penniless-as-hell guy she’s mad thirsty for. The parents are okay with the dude being poor, but they’re not okay with him being from Neptune (yep, the planet). So the girl holds everybody at the restaurant—her parents, her little brother, her aunt (who’s a nun), a snooty middle-aged businesswoman, a squabbling elderly couple, a clown, a magician, and me (I play the damn waiter)—at gunpoint until her parents are okay with Neptune. Of course, hijinks ensue. At one stupid point, the clown and the magician—who are there for the little brother’s birthday party—get into a fistfight because the clown thinks he knows more tricks than the magician who thinks he’s funnier than the clown and during their scuffle the magician bumps into the snooty businesswoman who accidentally pours cranberry juice all over my white uniform. For some reason, that makes me faint. I especially hated that part, by the way. I’ve never fainted before in my life. For those of you who don’t know: black folks don’t faint. I’m not sure why; we just don’t. Evidently the playwright missed that memo and forced a brother to faint every night in front of administrators, teachers, and fellow schoolmates. Anyway, after a while the hostage negotiator persuades the girl to let all the hostages go, but her aunt—the nun—decides to stay with the girl, and the clown—feeling guilty about some real disturbing shit he’s done over the years (it’s a long-ass list that I don’t have time to get into right now)—refuses to leave the nun alone with the girl so he handcuffs himself to the nun. The hostage negotiator eventually breaks into the restaurant and, seeing me unconscious on the floor in my cranberry-juiced white suit, thinks the girl blew me up and is about to lock her up for life, but then I wake up and the police chief ends up locking her up for eleven months (the girl’s parents are really tight with city council).
         And the girl’s parents end up still not being okay with Neptune. So the girl went through all that drama for nothing.
         But I went through all that drama for something. If it hadn’t been for that heap of horse-vomit that had the nerve to call itself a play, I wouldn’t be in love right now. So as much as I hated that play, I can’t think and talk about it enough, even though it ended three months ago. My grandfather (R.I.P.) used to say, “Even the most beautiful gardens start with shit.” At the time, I didn’t know what he meant. Now I do.
         It started at the end of a quick last-minute dress rehearsal just a couple of hours before our grand opening-night performance. Friday night. The clown and the nun were handcuffed to each other, as usual; but this time, nobody could find the key to uncuff them. Stuart Baldwin, our props guy, was an incompetent asshole even on his most bacon day and he’d misplaced it. It didn’t take long for Panic to be the thirteenth member of our twelve-member cast. Everybody started scurrying around our handcuffed nun & clown, whipping back and forth across the damn stage, frantically checking under tables and chairs and heavy curtain folds. It wouldn’t have been so bad if our opening night wasn’t less than two...

About the Author-

  • Kwame Ivery was born in Bronx, New York, and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. He received a BA in psychology from Princeton University and an MFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of The Arts. He’s had a screenplay optioned by Hollywood storyboard artist Karl Shefelman (The Silence of the Lambs, American Gangster). He’s a proud high school English teacher with over a hundred teenage students who, on a daily basis, teach him just as many things as he teaches them. He loves lasagna and hates musicals; he thinks contrasts are underrated and symmetry overrated. You can visit Kwame at kwameivery.com or on Twitter @KwameIvery.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2021
    New Jersey teens fall in love while managing their sisters' opposing presidential campaigns. In this novel told in alternating points of view, Ulysses Gates, who is Black, and Sallie Walls, who is White, describe the events leading up to a school shooting on inauguration day. While acting in a school play, the two bond over their love of the movie The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and slowly begin a romantic relationship. Sallie has had a crush on Uly since their English class the previous year; Uly, on the other hand, is surprised he even likes Sallie because he has never been attracted to White girls and had misinterpreted her behavior, believing her to be racist. When Sallie's sister, Leona, begins campaigning for president on a platform calling for an end to school busing from neighboring communities that are predominantly of color, Uly's sister, Regina, decides to run against her, call out the coded racist language Leona is using, and advocate for students of color. A third candidate enters the field--a White athlete with a divisive past--and the race escalates dangerously. Uly and Sallie are well-crafted characters; the interracial relationship is portrayed with honesty and humor, and their love is palpable. With excellent pacing, Ivery explores the impact White supremacy and patriarchal norms have on our lives and the dangers of not holding people accountable. A timely exploration of the state of American politics. (Fiction. 12-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2021) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    October 1, 2021

    Gr 10 Up-A racially charged school presidential election leads to disaster on inauguration day for the students of Knight High School. Ulysses Gates, a Black teenager, and Sallie Walls, a white teenager, meet while acting in a play and quickly fall in love. What starts as a dream quickly turns into a nightmare as both of their sisters make them their respective campaign managers in the election for school president. The primary objective of Sallie�s sister Leona�s campaign is to block the Black and Latinx students from the neighboring town from coming to Knight High School as they have for the past 40 years. Ulysses's sister, Regina, aims to combat racism in the school and have everyone feel like they belong. As the campaign intensifies, Ulysses and Sallie wonder if their love can survive in an atmosphere of hate. Hate speech, gun violence, and racism are not shied away from in the work. Knight High School is a microcosm for a variety of issues found in the real world. An author's note prefacing the book states that the story was written as a way to process the events of the 2016 presidential election. VERDICT A romance that raises uncomfortable yet very necessary questions, this is an excellent book for discussion and purchase in young adult collections.-Ashley Leffel, Griffin M.S., Frisco, TX

    Copyright 2021 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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