Patina is the second book in the Track series by Jason Reynolds. I loved the first book, Ghost and even recommended it in this list of middle-grade books about sports. After Patina’s dad dies and her mom loses both legs to diabetes, she and her sister move in with her uncle and his wife Emily. The girls call Emily “Momly.” The move means that Patina has to go to a posh new private school, leaving behind her best friend, Cotton. Her one bright spot is running track with her friends.
Patina suppresses most of her grief for her dad and mother and focuses on looking after her sister, even if Emily is fully capable. Things start to change at school when her teacher assigns her to a group project with three other girls. Also, at track practice, she’s forced to rely on her team when they begin practicing the relay baton hand-over.
I loved Patina’s character. She seems rough-edged initially, but we see that her tough exterior is only a defense mechanism. She’s so sweet and cares for the people in her life. I would totally read a YA novel about Patina. This book’s layout with Patina’s unending to-do lists as the chapter headings really exemplify her character. The language of the book also flows naturally, much like Alicia D. Williams‘ use of ebonics in Genesis Begins Again. There’s such a wonderful emphasis on family and the value of friendships and community in this book and the entire Track series.
I enjoyed all of the relay training and actually felt like I developed a greater appreciation for the entire sport. You know how much I love reading about female friendships — Patina makes some great female friends. Besides her bond with her teammates, her relationship with Becca is sweet too. Finally, Jason Reynolds handles Patina’s mother’s diabetes in such a sensitive, but true-to-life manner. It’s very educative regarding the possible complications of the illness and how it affects sufferers and their families.
Can you tell I loved Patina? While I haven’t read the entire series yet, I have a strong feeling Patty will be my favorite of them all. Patina is a moving, inspiring story of a fierce girl with a big heart and fast legs. If you enjoyed the first book in the Track series or you like middle-grade books about sports, you’ll ADORE Patina. This novel tackles everything from parental illness and disability, the loss of a parent, and adjusting to a new socioeconomic condition. I would highly recommend this novel to sports-loving and non-sports-loving kids and adults alike.
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Have you read this book or anything by Jason Reynolds? What did you think? What are your favorite Jason Reynolds books? I’d love to know!