"A Good Kind of Trouble" by Lisa Moore Ramée, Chapters 1–18

May 2, 2019
Twelve-year-old Shayla doesn't like to make waves—but as she navigates middle school and educates herself about prejudice in her community, she learns that sometimes it's good to cause a little trouble.

Here are links to our lists for the novel: Chapters 1–18, Chapters 19–37, Chapters 38–71
He catches me looking at him, and his mouth shifts into a mean grimace.
I just bet partnering me with Bernard is some devious experiment: what happens if we mix trouble-hating girl with bully boy?
The top slide has a tiny green-brown thing on it, and when I peer through the microscope, I can see it’s a bug leg.
We’re all wearing low-top black Converses. Julia’s are really worn out, and Isabella’s are splotched with purple paint.
“When someone says, Know what I’m saying? it’s not like a real question,” Julia explains. “It’s an expression.”
“Well, you’re doomed,” Julia says matter-of-factly, like she’s all ready for my funeral.
They’re big and white and practical.
We both head to the water fountain, and I’m wondering if putting deodorant on sweaty pits will keep me from being funky later, when Coach West walks over.
“Isn’t there anyone who can tell me something about him?” Her exasperated voice has become full-on irritated.
“It can be a bit dense. But I’m surprised you didn’t learn he was a passionate abolitionist, Shayla.”
I slump in my seat and start picking at a tiny blob of ink stuck on my desk.
I hate when a teacher assumes that just because I’m Black, I’ll know all about slavery and civil rights and stuff like that.
“It was a pretty radical belief for his time. That type of thinking wasn’t popular or well respected by many people back then. Emerson had to be fairly brave to be an abolitionist.”
Stacy ignores us and starts talking about how boring her computer elective is, and then everyone starts talking about their electives and how fun or awful they are.
She knows I’m not very coordinated, but come on. I can run, at least.
It’s a small rectangle of metal, and I have to hit it over and over again with a riveting hammer until it is completely covered with little round divots.
Momma likes to pick me up after the long line of cars in the drop-off/pick-up zone has cleared out so she can just whisk to the curb.
My sister barges into my room whenever she feels like it, but if I go into her room without knocking, she cuts my head off.
Hana’s smile gets wide, but then she looks at me like I caught her rifling through Momma’s purse, and she frowns at me.
“Your father just means a lot—”
“Most,” Daddy interjects.
“Are butterflies arthropods?” I ask.
Bernard breaks out into loud cackles.
Bernard grabs my hand and yanks me up, and I sprawl right into him like I’m one of those rings clanging into the pole.
Isabella hadn’t said one thing about getting her braces off when we were all texting last night. And the only pictures she posted online were of Kahlo, one of her cats, and her swollen toe after she stubbed it.
I look at Isabella too. With her nonbushy hair, big hazel eyes, regular-sized forehead, perfectly groomed eyebrows, and shiny straight teeth.
One of the boys, Daniel Richards, says something to Alex, and at first Alex looks around, a little confused. Daniel is obnoxious, so I know whatever he said can’t be good.
Alex starts singing that commercial jingle about good-smelling shampoo, but in the commercial it’s a girl singing it, and I know the boys are trying to make Alex feel embarrassed.
So, on the first day of track practice, I walk real slow to the locker room, dreading changing, dreading running, dreading doing this at all without a friend.
“Our country has so many great things, but it also has a long history of intolerance. Sometimes trials like this one are...benchmarks. They can show how far we’ve come, or how far we’ve yet to go."
“What’s gotten into you?” Julia asks, looking at me suspiciously. She knows I like to hoard my chips.

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