Sharon Draper Is The Realest Writer I Know

Sharon Draper Is The Realest Writer I Know

We need to expose our young to Sharon Draper's work!
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I was first introduced to Sharon Draper in my fourth grade reading class, and ever since then I've grown a solid love for her works. There was something different about her from any other writer I knew at the time. Maybe that difference was that she is an African American writer, who's stories focused on the lives of African American individuals, and common struggles that they face. Her themes included: abusive relationships, kidnappings, racism, the lose of family members, gang violence, etc... To be exposed to heavy themes at such a young age was very eye opening. These topics are still relevant (sadly) today, and I think that we need to expose our young to some of her works. Each of her books have an underlying message that teens/young adults can learn from, and we need to educate our young on these topics. The sooner they learn, the sooner a change will come.

Here are a few of my favorite books that were written by Sharon herself and the lessons that they provide:



Tears of A Tiger

Tears of a Tiger is the first book out of Draper's Hazelwood High Trilogy. It deals with: guilt, race, friendship, drugs and alcohol, isolation, and making choices. It's the story of a seventeen year old African American boy named Andy, who feels guilty for causing his best friend's death (caused by alcohol abuse and drunk driving).

Lesson: DO NOT DRINK AND DRIVE!!


Forged By Fire

Forged By Fire is the second book from the Hazelwood High Trilogy. This story focuses on the story of an African American boy named Gerald who has to deal with his life after the death of his aunt, his only caregiver while growing up.

Lesson: Love the one's who're near you before there time is up. When their time is gone just know that they're still there with you in spirit.



Darkness Before Dawn

According to sharondraper.com, the reason why she created this third book is, "...of the hundreds of letters she received from young readers who had embraced the characters in Tears of a Tiger and Forged by Fire." In Darkness Before Dawn answers all of the questions about the seniors and how they're dealing with life. There are several new characters that're added to the mix of drama.

Lesson: When old friendships end, new friendships begin.


The Battle of Jericho

This is the first book of Draper's Jericho Trilogy. This story takes place in Douglass High School. An African American teen named Jericho and his friends, Joshua and Kofi are invited to join a school club, and being part of school clubs usually bring popularity, right? They're asked to sneak out of their homes at midnight by one of the club leaders and of course they follow through. Jericho is beginning to feel that some of the activities they're asked to do are a bit odd. The pledges all meet at midnight to take an oath. A girl name Dana also, pledges and receives the most harassment from a few of the leaders. Jericho, Josh and Dana are all accepted as members, but it all ends in a horrible accident that costs Josh's life.

Lesson: Wanting to be popular can be a cause of death. Think with your brain, not with the crowd.


November Blues

November Blues is the second book in the Jericho Trilogy. This book deals with the issues of death and teen pregnancy. November Nelson has lost her boyfriend Josh after a pledge stunt. She soon realizes that she is pregnant and that the baby is definitely his. She faces the pressures of telling her family that she is sixteen and pregnant as well as her close friends. While this is going on Jericho and coping with his cousin's death by giving up his passion of playing music to play football.

Lesson: Always be open with your family and friends.


Just Another Hero

This is the final book of the Jericho Trilogy. It deals with the pressures of having a school shooting. After the deadly hazing of a member the school is slowly beginning to thrive how it used to. One day a fire alarmed is pulled and the kids all react as though it's no big deal, because they think it's just crazy Jack messing around. He shows up in a science lab holding an AK-47, yelling out that he finally wants to be taken seriously. Will someone step up and stop him or is death the only answer?

Lesson: Be kind to everyone around you. You never know what they might be going through.


Panic

Panic is my favorite book written by Draper! I strongly connect with the lead female character Diamond. She's a strong independent individual who knows exactly what she wants from life, and she is fully determined to make her dreams come true. But this determination gets her into a messy ordeal. Her and her friend are at the mall, and their mission is to buy a pair of dance tights and head straight to rehearsal. Diamond meets a stranger, and is convinced by him that he can make her a star, but she'll have to come to his house to meet his famous daughter and start making connections. Persuaded, she soon follows him out to his car and is driven to his house. Once there she is drugged, and wakes up in a strange room, held captive. After not hearing or seeing Diamond her family and friends go on a hunt to find her.

Lesson: Stranger danger! Never leave with a stranger, no matter how appealing what they offer is.

Cover Image Credit: AdWeek.com

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3 Reasons Why Step Dads Are Super Dads

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I often hear a lot of people complaining about their step-parents and wondering why they think that they have any authority over them. Although I know that everyone has different situations, I will be the first to admit that I am beyond blessed to have a step dad. Yep, I said it. My life wouldn't be the same that it is not without him in it. Let me tell you why I think step dads are the greatest things since sliced bread.

1. They will do anything for you, literally.

My stepdad has done any and every thing for me. From when I was little until now. He was and still is my go-to. If I was hungry, he would get me food. If something was broken, he would fix it. If I wanted something, he would normally always find a way to get it. He didn't spoil me (just sometimes), but he would make sure that I was always taken care of.

SEE ALSO: The Thank You That Step-Parents Deserve

2. Life lessons.

Yup, the tough one. My stepdad has taught me things that I would have never figured out on my own. He has stood beside me through every mistake. He has been there to pick me up when I am down. My stepdad is like the book of knowledge: crazy hormonal teenage edition. Boy problems? He would probably make me feel better. He just always seemed to know what to say. I think that the most important lesson that I have learned from my stepdad is: to never give up. My stepdad has been through three cycles of leukemia. He is now in remission, yay!! But, I never heard him complain. I never heard him worry and I never saw him feeling sorry for himself. Through you, I found strength.

3. He loved me as his own.

The big one, the one that may seem impossible to some step parents. My stepdad is not actually my stepdad, but rather my dad. I will never have enough words to explain how grateful I am for this man, which is why I am attempting to write this right now. It takes a special kind of human to love another as if they are their own. There had never been times where I didn't think that my dad wouldn't be there for me. It was like I always knew he would be. He introduces me as his daughter, and he is my dad. I wouldn't have it any other way. You were able to show me what family is.

So, dad... thanks. Thanks for being you. Thanks for being awesome. Thanks for being strong. Thanks for loving me. Thanks for loving my mom. Thanks for giving me a wonderful little sister. Thanks for being someone that I can count on. Thanks for being my dad.

I love you!

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Everyone Should Experience Working In Fast Food Or Retail

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it.

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I know these jobs aren't glamorous. In fact, most days I looked forward to clocking out before I had even clocked in. I always secretly rolled my eyes when an angry customer droned on and on about how entitled he or she was. Though I can name a lot of bad things that happened on the job, it wasn't all horrible. As I reflect on my time working in fast food, I realize how much having that job really taught me and how grateful I am to have had that experience. I really think everyone should work in fast food or retail at some point, and here's why:

You make some great friends from work. I get it, sometimes your co-workers are royal jerks or flat out creeps. You see your name on the schedule next to theirs and immediately try switching with someone else. I've been there. However, I have worked with some amazing people as well.

Every time I worked with one girl in particular, we laughed for entire shifts. One night, we were singing the national anthem at the top of our lungs without realizing a customer had come in (to our surprise, she applauded our terrible screaming). Another coworker and I turned up the radio on full blast when business was slow and had dance battles. We made the most of our shifts, and I still talk to some of these people today.

You learn how to deal with difficult people. It's the age-old story: the uppity customer thinks twelve dollars for a meal combo is outrageous and Where is your manager?!

My friend and I were once called stupid and a customer said he would never come back to our restaurant to eat ever again. At the moment, we were scared out of our minds because we were both pretty new to the job. As time passed, we became more patient and tolerant and knew what triggered these particular customers. Dealing with these adversities definitely helps in the long run, particularly when it comes to doing group work with people who seem unbearable.

Your people skills increase by a landslide. I had always thought that I was great with people before I had a job. However, when I found myself in situations where I had to talk to strangers, I would grow nervous and stumble across my words from time to time. Working in an environment where communicating with others is a driving force helped me not only with improving my public speaking, but also made me more outgoing. In situations where I once backed into the corner to avoid having to talk to someone, I now take charge and initiate a conversation.

You establish a connection with regular customers. My favorite customer was named Jack. He was the sweetest old man who came in every Wednesday and Friday and bought food for himself and his wife. I quickly memorized his order, which impressed him. We shared pleasantries every time he came in, and my coworkers and I looked forward to seeing him.

Establishing a relationship with people who come in a lot helps immensely when it comes to working. It also provides a sense of accomplishment when you memorize an order. Not to mention, the customers start to like you and typically leave a generous tip!

You have stories to tell for a lifetime! Sometimes bad things happen at work. Once I was holding a hot pan and burned my arm— I still have the burn mark on my arm to prove it. My point is, it sucked at the moment, but now I look back and laugh.

One time I asked my coworker how to make soup and she replied, "Slowly, but beautifully." It was so nonchalant that I cracked up for hours. There was also a time when a customer asked me for outlandish toppings and condiments that we didn't offer. The craziest story, though, was the drug deal that went down in our public restrooms. My coworker and I obviously could not leave our station and follow these people into the bathroom, so we were pretty much defenseless. Nobody got hurt or anything, so it made for a great story.

Working in fast food was definitely not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows, but I'm so glad I did it. It made me more independent and outgoing and gave me memories I'll never forget.

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