The Skin I'm In

by Sharon G. Flake

Maleeka Madison is always getting teased about the way she looks. "If it ain't... read more

Maleeka Madison is always getting teased about the way she looks. "If it ain't about my color, it's my clothes." Maleeka can do something about the handsewn clothes she finds embarrassing. As long as she stays on classmate Charlese's good side, Char loans her fashionable outfits that Maleeka changes into each morning at school. But there's not much she can do about the color of her skin. No one has a problem with Maleeka being Black; after all, most of her classmates are Black, too. But plenty of them have a problem with Maleeka being too black. "They don't say nothing about the fact that I'm a math whiz, and can outdo ninth graders when it comes to figuring numbers. Or that I got a good memory and never forget a single, solitary thing I read. They only see what they see, and they don't seem to like what they see much." Maleeka knows she deserves to be treated better, but there is a huge gap between knowing she deserves more respect and liking herself enough to demand it. A new teacher at her school, Miss Saunders, tries to help Maleeka see how beautiful she is both inside and out, but Maleeka is resistant to her efforts. In her opinion, Miss Saunders is butting into things that aren't her business, in spite of, or perhaps because of, the disfiguring birthmark on the teacher's own face. A stunning and courageous debut novel from Sharon G. Flake moves swiftly with dialogue finely tuned to the voices of contemporary African American teens as it explores issues of self-respect and self-esteem through the life of a creative and talented young woman who is learning to see herself in new ways. Winner, 1998 CCBC Coretta Scott King Award Discussion: Author. (Age 13-16)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 1998

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