Reading With Patrick

Reading With Patrick

A Teacher, A Student, and A Life-changing Friendship

Book - 2017
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Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer in 2004, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America. In this unforgettable memoir, Michelle shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and political awakening. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle's exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle leaves Arkansas to attend law school. When, on graduating, she learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick's education as he sits in jail awaiting trial. For the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and history, and Patrick is galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Marilynne Robinson, W. S. Merwin, and many others. Reading with Patrick is an inspirational story of friendship, a coming-of-age story for both a young teacher and student, a resonant meditation on race and justice, and a love letter to literature and its power to bind us together.
Publisher: New York :, Random House,, 2017
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9780812997316
Branch Call Number: 371.826927 Kuo
Characteristics: xxi, 296 pages ;,22 cm


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Jun 04, 2019

A first-person revelation of race, poverty, and injustice in the contemporary American Deep South. This is not an "everyone lives happily ever after" memoir.

Jan 17, 2019

Wow. Kou has a way of discussing racial issues and wondering in a way of truth coupled with compassion without ignoring the deeper issues. I love her honesty about her ignorance and her own predjuduces. She writes beautifully and has such intelligence. I need to check it out again simply to reread her reference section.

Nov 03, 2018

If you are a teacher, social worker, mentor...anyone interested in helping shape and change an individuals life this book is for you. Amazing story and very inspiring.

Mar 16, 2018

Fabulous book...had me hooked from the beginning. A study in racial inequality, literature, mores, incarceration. Well written, no rush to push the text through. A story, as well as Patrick, treated with reverence. Highly recommend.

Jan 25, 2018

This book ticked a lot of the boxes that make an enjoyable book for me. It is about the combined power of human connection and education and the impact that can make on individuals and ultimately on society. I was inspired by Michelle Kuo's approach to teaching and loved to watch Patrick find meaning in some of the texts they studied. This a quick and easy read that leaves you feeling hopeful.

Manateestarz Aug 16, 2017

Every teacher would like to have an attentive, bright student like Patrick. But, his situation presents us with some moral questions.
These questions are touched upon too briefly by the author, but Teach for America alum , Michelle K. still writes about her relationship with former student Patrick and her experiences teaching kids at a school for at risk youth in the Mississippi Delta with humor, compassion, and a compelling sincerity.
She takes the reader into the world she encounters and makes us understand what about James Baldwin's work and the work of other African-American writers inspired her to make a difference by enrolling in Teach for America in Helena, Arkansas . She writes about the people she encounters in the Delta without condescension and great understanding.

Michelle Kuo also writes compellingly of her inner struggles, her differences with her parents and her search for meaning in her own career. She makes us care about her neighbors and friends in the Delta and about her own life.

This is a very good book.


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Jun 04, 2019

"It was through reading [American novelist, playwright, and activist James] Baldwin with Patrick that something clicked in me. This was why I loved Baldwin: He talked openly about the struggle to feel warmth toward oneself. He'd written that questions of race operated 'to hide the graver question of the self'. It wasn't that he denied the existence of racial inequality. But the harder task was to figure 'out who one was' because and in spite of it. ... I was learning, you can't try to fill someone up with stories about the people you think he ought to [emulate such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, or Barack Obama]. You first have to work with his sense of himself." (p. 246-7)


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