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Jaire Sims
Author
Getting By
Jaire Sims, author

Children/Young Adult; General Fiction (including literary and historical); (Market)

Carver Goodman is a 17-year-old African American student who aspires to become a photographer. As if balancing school, homework, extracurricular activities, and the ACT wasn’t enough, Carver is frequently targeted by violent bullies and is struggling to understand his sexuality while he develops his first romantic relationship. When his spot as one of the top students in school is jeopardized under the strain of the increasing challenges in his life, Carver knows something has to change. But what should he do, and how can he do it without getting hurt or hurting anyone else in the process?
Reviews
Midwest Book Reviews - Diane Donovan

Getting By is a fine young adult coming of age story centered on Carver Goodman, an African American student who has just turned seventeen, and dreams of becoming a photographer.

In addition to the usual challenges of school, bullies, and his ability to appreciate the pleasures of local nature, Carver acknowledges that he's at a crossroads in his life where everything is poised to change: "...lunch was where I could spend precious time with friends, something I valued because I knew our time together in high school would not last forever."

His ability to accept life's inevitable twists and turns and his changing role in it is one of the facets that keeps readers engaged in Getting By.

Another draw is Carver Goodman's ability to accept new beginnings that include a blossoming relationship with his good friend Jocelynn, questions about sexuality and life direction, and the choices he faces in honing his abilities in more than one way. More so than most accounts of African American young people, Sims cultivates the ability to present a multifaceted young personality on the cusp of various types of changes and confrontations in life.

This approach creates a character that has ambition, searches for his life purpose and connections, and who moves in a world where getting by is not the only choice. In his case, getting by would be falling into an easy relationship with his good friend. But opting for something more brings Carver into dangerous territory: "Donnell looked sexy not only in khakis but in jeans as well. I know it didn't count as cheating, but the way I looked at Donnell and some of the other boys at school almost made me feel like I was cheating on Jocelynn. When Donnell saw me after getting on the bus, he greeted me with a nod before sitting in the back. I was lucky enough to smell a hint of his cologne when he walked past me."

Too many young adult stories of African Americans also adopt relatively singular approaches, placing their characters in ghettos where influences are different. In creating a talented, aspiring young man who is facing both the pinnacle of success and some of his greatest personal challenges for building a different future goal, Jaire Sims goes far beyond getting by with stereotypical scenarios and approaches.

Who is Carver honoring when he makes decisions based on the expectations of others, and how can he stay true to himself and his loved ones while staying on an upward trajectory towards success and personal life satisfaction?

Carver Goodman's decisions and options on the cusp of adulthood create a compelling, uplifting, realistic story of a potentially successful young man and introvert who faces pressures and influences beyond those usually wound into African American coming of age stories. Getting By is an exceptional, thought-provoking read.

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