Not An Easy Win

Borrow and read this book in Granite’s Sora

Written by Chrystal D. Giles

This novel for middle grade readers is a win! Life isn’t easy for Lawrence. His father is incarcerated and he’s living at his grandmother’s house with his mother and younger sister. He attends a school that is predominantly white, and is always taking blame for the fights he gets into. The book opens with the last straw; Lawrence has to finish out 7th grade through remote learning. Just when he hits rock bottom, he finds a way to turn his life around through learning chess and making new friends at the local rec center.

I love how chess is woven into the story; the game becomes a metaphor for his life, and could function as an entry point for readers who might be inspired to learn. I was rooting for Lawrence from page one. His earnest, heartwarming voice handles serious issues in a way that will make a memorable impact on readers of all ages. Also featured are caring adults, Mr. Dennis and his grandmother, whose wisdom helps Lawrence work through his struggles. This book will give its reader the opportunity for serious reflection on how we treat others because of skin color. Unfortunately, in many parts of society, especially in the deep south where this story takes place, these prejudices will not end. It would be a great classroom read aloud for upper elementary through junior high.

Reviewed by Kristen Hunt, Librarian, Whittier Elementary School
Review shared in July 2023
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5 stars)
Interest Level: Grades 5-8

Not An Easy Win
Written by Chrystal D. Giles
Random House
245 pages
Release Date: February 28, 2023
ISBN: 9780593175217
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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