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Emako Blue

Press:Puffin Speak; Reprint edition (December 29, 2005)
Publication Date:2005-12-29
Author Name:Brenda Woods


Emako Blue was supposed to be a star. 
She was beautiful and good-hearted.
She was Monterey's best friend.
She was the only girl Jamal cared about, the one who saw through his player act.
She was the one who understood the burden of Eddie's family.
She was the best singer anyone had ever heard, with a voice like vanilla incense, smoky and sweet.
She was Savannah's rival, the one who wouldn't play by the rules.
She was destined for greatness, already plucked from South Central Los Angeles by the record producers.
She was only fifteen when she died.

From Booklist

Woods' The Red Rose Box, a 2003 Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book, is a moving historical novel that follows young sisters who move to a posh L.A.
home in the 1950s.
Woods returns to L.A.
here, but this time her story is contemporary and raw: in the first scene, high-school friends attend the funeral of one of their own--Emako, a beautiful, talented young singer who was shot outside her South Central home.
In alternating voices, four young people talk about Emako, revealing something about their own very different lives.
The shifting viewpoints create interesting perspectives on the story, but with so little space devoted to each speaker, characterizations sometimes feel superficial.
Even so, many teens will want this for the wrenching story and for the young, up-to-the-minute African American voices that, like the characters in Janet McDonald's novels, ask honest questions about friendship, race, love, and how best to navigate dangerous neighborhoods, self-absorbed parents, and their own flaws--and realize their dreams.
Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Brenda Woods (www.brendawoods.net) was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, raised in southern California, and attended California State University, Northridge. 
She is the award-winning author of several books for young readers: Coretta Scott King Honor winner The Red Rose Box, Saint Louis Armstrong Beach, VOYA Top Shelf Fiction selection Emako Blue, My Name is Sally Little Song, and A Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Her numerous awards and honors include the Judy Lopez Memorial Award, FOCAL award, Pen Center USA’s Literary Award finalist, IRA Children’s Choice Young Adult Fiction Award, and ALA Quick Pick.
She lives in the Los Angeles area.


Children's Books,Growing Up & Facts of Life,Difficult Discussions,Violence,Teens,Literature & Fiction,Social & Family Issues,Geography & Cultures,Where We Live,City Life

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Comment List (Total:10)

  •     This book was the first book ever to make me feel like I had actually lost a friend. it made me feel like my best friend was gone and I was never going to see her again. That's how deep this book was. I even teared up a little. I may be a girl, but I'm to....... i don't know the word, but whatever it is, it won't let me cry over no book. But, it was a very emotional read and it saddened me. I like how it told each of her friends side of the story before and after her death, well friends and foe, Savannah. It's a shame that things like this really do happen in this world and Innocence does not make you immune. It's a crazy, cruel, and spiteful world out there and this book tells it like it is. Just a young black teenager, tryna do her. But God has a plan for everyone and this book lets you see that. After reading this book, I realize that this could happen to anybody, even me and I wanna make sure I do what I can on this earth while I'm here because just like Emako's life was taken in a flick of a trigger, mine could be too. So I thing everyone should read Emako Blue. Brenda Woods put a lot of work into this and the result will have many other young girls who read this book in tears.

  •     EMAKO BLUE is a strong second novel for Brenda Woods and a worthy follow-up to her award-winning debut, THE RED ROSE BOX.Emako is the new girl in Monterey's school; the two meet in chorus. Emako comes from the rough streets of South Central Los Angeles; Monterey's family is more financially secure. Emako and Monterey become friends, and Emako's singing career begins to take off. But where Emako comes from ends up getting in her way. Monterey is a somewhat naïve girl, whose horizons are broadened by her friendship with Emako. She gains the confidence to begin a relationship with the boy she has had a long-time crush on, Eddie. Emako is also full of confidence and begins a relationship with a player, Jamal, but she calls the shots. A more minor character is Savannah, a girl who is jealous of Emako for a variety of reasons.These five characters take turns narrating chapters. Besides strong, well-developed characters and an unconventional method of narration, this book succeeds because of its realistic subject matter and plot. Readers will be able to understand the feelings of jealousy that Savannah feels towards Emako and the nerves that Monterey experiences when speaking to Eddie for the first time. The addition of financial problems, gang issues (Emako's older brother was involved in a gang and was recently released from jail), and budding romantic relationships are issues that many readers will have to face in their own lives.But EMAKO BLUE is more than realistic; it is real. It shows the reality of being poor, of broken homes, and of money not being enough to make you happy. This is a powerful book that will stay with readers for a long time after they have finished it. Brenda Woods is a talented writer whose works cannot be missed. --- Reviewed by Melissa A. Palmer (Melissaenglish72@yahoo.com)

  •     this book has a great premise: Emako Blue is a teenage girl, uncommonly friendly, with a beautiful voice.

  •     excellent condition

  •     I was lucky Bound to Stay Bound gave me this book for free. After reading it I now have five copies in the our jr. high school library.

  •     Emako Blue is the best book I read all year. When I picked it off the shelf and I looked at it, it didn't look really that interesting.

  •     " 'A sweet innocent life has been taken before her time!' the preacher shouted." 'Have mercy!' a woman in the front screamed." 'Amen!' a man yelled from the back of the church.""To live and die in LAIt's the place to beYou've got to be there to know itWhere everybody wanna see."--"To Live and Die in LA" by Tupac Shakur...who was murdered before the song was released.Why do such disproportionate numbers of young urban males become members of gangs, obtain firearms, and end up murdering each other (and innocent bystanders) on a daily basis?"What was a friend now a ghost in the dark" --TupacWhy is it, four decades after California's Proposition 14 contributed to a community's despair and the ensuing Watts riots, that increasing numbers of Americans in LA and so many other cities continue their slide into poverty, face scary schools and war zone neighborhoods, lack of health care, and astronomical unemployment rates?Why does such a large proportion of America think it's fair to have the rich leaping at huge tax cut windfalls funded by record deficits--irretrievably widening the gap between the two Americas--while the urban poor of that "other America" continue to jump at every loud noise, hoping that it won't be the last noise they hear?"It's the City of Angels and constant danger," continues Tupac.That sentiment is underscored in EMAKO BLUE, the heartfelt, hip, and tragic tale of that sweet, innocent life, set in Los Angeles, and written by CSK honoree Brenda Woods.(Monterey:)" 'Emako Blue.'"She stood up, and as she walked up the steps, she immediately had the attention of all of the fellas in the room." 'Damn! She's fine!' I heard one of them say."Then she opened her mouth and her voice poured out into the auditorium. It was like vanilla incense, smoky and sweet."She had a voice that could do tricks, go high, low, and anywhere in between: a voice that's a gift from God. She was Jill Scott and Minnie Riperton, Lauryn Hill and India.Arie."She was too pretty, with dark brown skin and black braids extended to her waist."She was wearing tight faded blue jeans, a red sleeveless T-shirt, and black platform shoes. She was kind of tall, with a tight body like a video freak. I could feel jealousy and lust creeping around the room, and when she finished singing the room was as quiet as a library at midnight."Emako's story is chronicled by four of her peers. And in the telling, those four repeatedly reveal themselves and facets of their city at least as much as they shed light on their beautiful, dead friend.Monterey is an Everygirl: a dose of competence, a little touch of insecurity, a decent home, and fair, loving parents. Savannah is the miserable rich girl, creating drama in hopes of gaining the attention she's denied at home. Eddie--one of several characters with an older sibling behind bars--is desperately clawing his way through high school in hopes of fleeing to a college Anywhere Else in order to escape the fate that awaits so many young brothers who remain behind. And there's Jamal, whose modest attempts to portray himself as a player cannot disguise the fact that he proves to be thoroughly sweet inside."Jamal, this fine brother who was sitting behind me, asked the guy who was sitting next to him, 'Hey, Eddie, is she beautiful or what?'" 'She's beautiful,' Eddie replied." 'I'm gonna havta get with that,' Jamal said."Eddie just laughed. 'Player, you crazy.'"Emako walked down the steps and sat down in the empty seat next to me. I smiled at her and she smiled back. Her teeth were perfect and white. I ran my tongue over my braces. She wore silver rings on every finger, including her thumbs, and had a tattoo of a small red rose on her right shoulder. Confidence was all around her and I took some of it with me when Mr. Santos called my name next."I read EMAKO BLUE after my eighth grader admitted to it's being the first book to have made her cry. She acknowledged that it was fiction while simultaneously ranting about the depth of Jamal's love and the unfairness of what happens."I threw the phone across the room. It broke into pieces. My moms knocked on the door." 'Jamal?'"I couldn't answer."She turned the doorknob and came in." 'What's going on?' she said."I stared at the wall."She sat down beside me. 'Jamal?'"I hung my head and cried."In a similar fashion, the questions that come from my reading the story and contemplating the harsh realities behind it just make me want to cry too.What is so damned sacred about the Second Amendment? With over a quarter billion Americans, why do we need every idiot and his brother owning a firearm or two or three? I think the notion of that right has about as much validity today as does having slaves count as three-fifths of a person. That the assault rifle ban will expire next week is an atrocity. I feel like a terrorized hostage to the wackos of America who worship their right to bear arms, and am cynical enough to believe that plenty of them derive pleasure from watching poor people filled with despair taking each other out on that daily basis.Classes to whom I've already been booktalking EMAKO BLUE are taking delight in Ms. Woods's easy use of urban slang, without noticing her deft ability to do so without resorting to obscene words.In fact, the only obscenity here is that Brenda Woods can write such a heartbreaking story and have it ring so utterly true in 2004 America.Richie Partington[...]BudNotBuddy@aol.com

  •     Great Book.

  •     I loved this book as a child! I read it over five times in grade school! Very touching and inspiring

  •     I teach 7th grade and try to stock the most current quality books I can find. Emako Blue NEVER stays on the shelf.


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