The Fight by L. Divine 2006
IQ "These White folks hate seeing my Black self walk up the street. They probably think I'm gone steal one of their lawn ornaments or key their car or something. Sometimes I'll slow down and stare at the White people coming out of their houses in the morning to put some fear in these snooty people. I know it's wrong, but so is stereotyping." Jayd pg. 31
Sixteen-year old Jayd Jackson is a proud resident of Compton, California but even life in Compton hasn't prepared her for the drama of high school. She attends South Bay High aka Drama High, a school divided by cliques and Jayd is a bit of an anomly since she rolls effortlessly with many different cliques or crews ranging from South Central (aka the Black crew) to the Drama Club. Some kids don't like that but Jayd doesn't care and with her girls Nellie and Mickey beside her along with Mama training Jayd in the magical ways, she knows she can handle the haters. Drama High is a predominantly white school in one of the wealthiest parts of LA so Jayd's already got it tough. Her first day of her junior year dos not start off drama-free as she had hoped instead her fairly recent-ex boyfriend (KJ who dumped her for not having sex with him) has a new girlfriend (Trecee) who wants to fight Jayd. It doesn't help that Jayd's former best-friend Misty is spreading rumors about Jayd and egging on Trecee.
I've been sitting here trying to figure out why I gave this book 3 stars on Goodreads a while ago because now I would probably give it 2. Then I read a few reviews that really irritated me. One of them basically said 'notice that all the Black teens gave the book 4 or 5 stars and the white adults gave it 1 or 2.' Now aside from the fact that this Black teen gave it 3 stars not 4. How does that reviewer know the kids are Black? Most of the reviewer profiles DON'T HAVE PICTURES WITH FACES ON THEM. Anyway the review wasn't bad but that (paraphrased) comment really irritated me. I think I would like this story a lot more if there wasn't the magical element to it. Mostly because I don't understand all the cleansings, potions and spells. I'm fairly skeptical but I think I believe in curanderas and stuff so I can understand the background of Jayd's spiritual heritage but I think it takes away from what could be a really good story about a contemporary Black teen trying to straddle many different worlds. The magical elements are like a safety net, Jayd knows that because of her magical powers and her Mama (who is really her grandmother, she calls her actual mother Mom) she is safe from basically everything. Oh and of course in addition to her magic skills she's in all AP and honors classes, drop dead gorgeous, has a job and all the guys flirt with her. Perfect protagonists are probably my second or third biggest pet peeve especially when like Jayd, they have a 'woe is me' attitude. Plus the book felt outdated to me. I have lots of friends who speak like Jayd with lots of slang, I do too sometimes, but "giving up the cookies" is definitely not an expression used anymore, same with "heffa."
I do like that while the drama may be more intense than a lot of teens are used to (including myself. We don't have physical girl fights at my school), the root of the problems are the same in all high schools. The story moves quickly and while Jayd is perfect she still manages to get herself in some amusing scrapes. There's a lot of emphasis on descriptions of people and places. The focus on describing Compton and LA was a good call, I didn't particularly care for how people were described (and their outfits). Especially since the author doesn't seem to fond of white people. I choose the quote I did because it's funny and definitely true when it comes to certain neighborhoods but that doesn't mean I have something bad to say about every white person. Jayd would talk about how nice/funny a guy was BUT he was white. I could relate to her apprehension about going out with Jeremy (a nice white guy) because while race shouldn't hold you back from dating someone, there are some questions worth thinking about and trying to answer concerning the relationship (and no I don't mean 'will my friends approve'). Like any teenager for about a hot minute Jayd worried about what people would think if she started dating Jeremy but she didn't let that deter her from going on one date with him.
The Fight contain fond childhood memories for me because they were some of the earliest books I found with Black teenagers on the cover. I devoured these books. The story isn't really a 'problem novel' a few heavy problems are mentioned, but mostly this is about life in privileged high school. I have a much lower tolerance for these books now but I gobbled them up when I was younger (read: middle school), I am curious as to how Jayd is doing because it's a long series (at least fourteen books) but its length deters me from catching up on reading them. There's so many books in the series and nothing really happens. This book is fast-paced but the action takes place in a couple of days which I found irritating. Jayd's the perfect protagonist and by that I don't mean she's fun yet flawed, no Jayd has it all. Her only flaw is something I'm not so sure the author sees as a flaw, I can't tell. Jayd is very judgemental especially concerning her white classmates and after awhile I was tired of her always mentioning that they wore white people clothes, sounded white, etc.