Take Back the Block

Take Back the Block

by Chrystal D. Giles (Author)

"This book made me want to step aside, hand over the mic, and listen to Wes. A must-read." (Mariama J. Lockington, author of For Black Girls Like Me)

Brand-new kicks, ripped denim shorts, Supreme tee -

Wes Henderson has the best style in sixth grade. That - and hanging out with his crew (his best friends since little-kid days) and playing video games - is what he wants to be thinking about at the start of the school year, not the protests his parents are always dragging him to. 

But when a real estate developer makes an offer to buy Kensington Oaks, the neighborhood Wes has lived his whole life, everything changes. The grownups are supposed to have all the answers, but all they're doing is arguing. Even Wes's best friends are fighting. And some of them may be moving. Wes isn't about to give up the only home he's ever known. Wes has always been good at puzzles, and he knows there has to be a missing piece that will solve this puzzle and save the Oaks. But can he find it...before it's too late? 

Exploring community, gentrification, justice, and friendship, Take Back the Block introduces an irresistible sixth grader and asks what it means to belong - to a place and a movement - and to fight for what you believe in. 

"Filled with hope, friendship, and grit - guaranteed to leave readers feeling inspired." (Stacy McAnulty, best-selling author of The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl

"Timely and penetrating." (Kelly Starling Lyons, author of Sing a Song: How Lift Every Voice and Sing Inspired Generations)  

"Chrystal Giles's sparkling debut will have you standing up and cheering." (Lisa Yee, award-winning author of Millicent Min, Girl Genius and the DC Super Hero Girls novels) 

In the vibrant neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn, New York, the community is facing the threat of gentrification. As luxury high-rises and chain stores begin to infiltrate the area, the residents, particularly the Black and brown families who have called Bed-Stuy home for generations, feel their beloved community slipping away.

Enter Shay Johnson, a young woman who grew up in Bed-Stuy and is determined to fight for her home. Shay rallies her neighbors, forming a coalition of activists, business owners, and community leaders. They embark on a mission to save Bed-Stuy, using creative and nonviolent tactics to push back against the forces of displacement.

As Shay and her allies organize protests, hold community meetings, and engage in negotiations with developers, they face challenges from both within and outside their community. Some residents are skeptical of their efforts, fearing that they will disrupt the progress and development that gentrification brings. Others, including corrupt politicians and real estate moguls, see Shay's movement as a threat to their own利益 and try to silence her.

Despite the obstacles, Shay and her coalition persevere, drawing inspiration from the history of resistance and resilience in Bed-Stuy. They stage creative protests, such as a massive block party that celebrates the neighborhood's culture and history. They also launch a boycott of the new luxury stores, diverting business to local, Black-owned establishments.

As Shay's movement gains momentum, it attracts the attention of the media and politicians. The city government is forced to take notice, and negotiations begin to address the community's concerns. Shay and her coalition demand affordable housing, protection for small businesses, and investments in education and social services.

In the end, Shay and her allies achieve a significant victory. The city commits to a plan that protects Bed-Stuy from displacement and promotes equitable development. The neighborhood is able to retain its unique character and charm, while also embracing progress and change.

"Take Back the Block" is a powerful and inspiring story about the power of community organizing and activism. It highlights the importance of fighting for affordable housing, racial justice, and the preservation of cultural heritage. Chrystal D. Giles' novel is a must-read for anyone who cares about the future of our cities and the right of all people to live in safe, affordable, and vibrant communities.


November 09, 2021