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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
Jamaal's Journey by John McCormack has a story line that must be vaguely familiar to anyone who has gone through the joys and pains of high school life. An African American student and a likable senior student, Jamaal is in his final two months at Spring Valley High School when Taneeka, the new girl in class, captures his heart. What follows is a roller coaster ride of friendship, hope, intimacy, love, rejection, frustration and revelation together with Jamaal, his school friends and their speech teacher, whose influence on his students will stay with them for the rest of their lives. What makes Jamaal’s Journey highly entertaining is the collection of interesting characters interacting with each other in one of the most difficult and exciting times of their lives - adolescence.
Winner of the Finalist Award for African-American Fiction in the 2015 Beverly Hills International Book Awards, Jamaal’s Journey certainly does not disappoint readers. There are many coming of age novels dealing with adolescence and high school life, but few are as insightful and entertaining as this one. Reading the book is like listening to Jamaal himself intimately talking to you about his innermost thoughts and feelings. Fast paced and moving from one scene to the next in quick succession, it draws the reader into the lives of the other kids in Jamaal’s social circle. And, as if without meaning to do so, the story exposes a number of social issues that sadly plague our society today and affect the lives of most young people. Jamaal’s Journey ends on an optimistic and realistic note, and this is just one of the reasons why this story will certainly capture your heart!