Double Dutch by Sharon Draper
BIBLIO: 2004 Aladdin Paperbacks/Simon& Schuster , ages 12 and up, $5.99.
REVIEWER: Gwen Harter.
FORMAT: Chapter Book
In a Cincinnati junior high Delia tries to live a normal life. She goes to her classes every day with her friends Yolanda, Charlene, Randy and Jesse, and the scary Tolliver twins Titan and Tabu. On the outside everything seems fine but two of them are hiding troublesome secrets.
Delia has somehow managed to keep it a secret throughout her school career that she is illiterate, due to a severe undiagnosed reading disability, unknown to everyone except Yolanda- the pathological liar with a good heart .She is smart and manages to fool her teachers by volunteering to do oral reports, watching the movie adaptations of books, and memorizing classroom discussions.Unfortunately it’s getting harder and harder to hide, especially as the state exams including reading and writing quickly approach.
Randy has been living on his own for almost two months after his truck driver dad disappears. Afraid to call the cops for help because he is worried about being put into foster care or having his dad charged with neglect forces Randy to act like the adult he isn’t quite yet; trying to pay bills and feed himself and his cat is a challenge that he bears alone.
Both of these kids find solace in the double dutch team where Delia, Yolanda, Charlene, and Misty compete while Randy helps Bomani, the coach, to prepare the girls as they train for the city competition, then states, then nationals.
The Tolliver twins cause a lot of tension in the school after appearing on a TV reality show where they act threatening and everybody fears they might harm the school. Though they never actively did anything wrong. No one expected that twisters would the the cause of destruction in the school and the turning point of the Tollivers’ reputation as they emerge as heroes after saving Yolanda after a long day of being trapped, undiscovered in the rubble.
Double Dutch is tense with excitement until the very end when the eighth grade team win the doubles section at the nationals and Randy discovers a paper in Delia’s bag. Since she couldn’t read she didn’t know that it was valuable positive information about his father.
In the end both have to confess their secrets, and both get help from those who care about them. This goes to show that hiding things never amounts to anything good and suffering through a disability alone, is never the only option.