Excerpt from If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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If I Survive You

by Jonathan Escoffery

If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery X
If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery
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  • Published:
    Sep 2022, 272 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Valerie Morales
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About this Book

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A duppy, or ghost, or even a grown man, can be difficult to discipline, so you and your brother alone share the punishments.


* * *


In school, when your world geography project is announced and you're made to choose from a list of countries to present on, you choose Mongolia. It's not till another student chooses Jamaica that you consider the tiny island a worthy option.

Part of your project requires preparing a dish native to the country you've chosen. This is fourth grade. Your mothers do the cooking. When they meet one another on presentation day, eyes ringed dark from having wrestled with foreign recipes late into the night, they nod imperceptibly, too exhausted for pleasantries.

As your classmate begins her presentation on Jamaica, your mother sucks her teeth—a sound akin to industrial-strength Velcro ripping apart—drawing glances from several of the other parents. "Me could've brought in leftovers," she whispers, leaning in, "if only you chose home." .


* * *


On career day, your father stands in front of your class and identifies himself as a general contractor. The block letter alphabet strung along the edge of the blackboard arcs over his wavy black hair. Below the arch, he unspools a foot of measuring tape with the tip of his thumb, then releases it, causing the tape to zip back into its case. The sharp whiz emitted by the swift violence of the retracted tape gains your classmates' undivided awe. Your father repeats this action several times before deigning to speak. Your classmates hold their breath in anticipation.

As he explains that "when man need dem bat'room fix, is me get all di plaster an' PVC an' t'ing, an' is me make di worker man come nice up di place," a string of snickers breaks out from the classroom's back row.

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Excerpted from If I Survive You by Jonathan Escoffery . Copyright © 2022 by Jonathan Escoffery . Excerpted by permission of MCD. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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