Reading with Patrick
A memoir of race, inequality, and the power of literature told through the life-changing friendship between an idealistic young teacher and her gifted student, jailed for murder in the Mississippi DeltaRecently graduated from Harvard University, Michelle Kuo arrived in the rural town of Helena, Arkansas, as a Teach for America volunteer, bursting with optimism and drive. But she soon encountered the jarring realities of life in one of the poorest counties in America, still disabled by the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow. In this stirring memoir, Kuo, the child of Taiwanese immigrants, shares the story of her complicated but rewarding mentorship of one student, Patrick Browning, and his remarkable literary and personal awakening.Convinced she can make a difference in the lives of her teenaged students, Michelle Kuo puts her heart into her work, using quiet reading time and guided writing to foster a sense of self in students left behind by a broken school system. Though Michelle loses some students to truancy and even gun violence, she is inspired by some such as Patrick. Fifteen and in the eighth grade, Patrick begins to thrive under Michelle's exacting attention. However, after two years of teaching, Michelle feels pressure from her parents and the draw of opportunities outside the Delta and leaves Arkansas to attend law school.Then, on the eve of her law-school graduation, Michelle learns that Patrick has been jailed for murder. Feeling that she left the Delta prematurely and determined to fix her mistake, Michelle returns to Helena and resumes Patrick's education--even as he sits in a jail cell awaiting trial. Every day for the next seven months they pore over classic novels, poems, and works of history. Little by little, Patrick grows into a confident, expressive writer and a dedicated reader galvanized by the works of Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin, Walt Whitman, W. S. Merwin, and others. In her time reading with Patrick, Michelle is herself transformed, contending with the legacy of racism and the questions of what constitutes a "good" life and what the privileged owe to those with bleaker prospects.Reading with Patrick is an inspirational story of friendship, a coming-of-age story of both a young teacher and a student, a deeply resonant meditation on education, race, and justice in the rural South, and a love letter to literature and its power to transcend social barriers. Advance praise for Reading with Patrick"This book is special and could not be more right on time. It's an absorbing, tender, and surprisingly honest examination of race and privilege in America that helps articulate what is often lost, seemingly intentionally, in national debates over criminal justice and education: the inner life and imagination of a young person."--Wes Moore, author of The Other Wes Moore "Every American should read Michelle Kuo's remarkable memoir. Honest, generous, humble, and wise, Reading with Patrick will endure as a defining story for our times and, abidingly, a testament to the power of language and of books."--Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs "I delighted in this book and read it in a single weekend. Reading with Patrick is a significant work that could swell the ranks of highly motivated and qualified teachers--people who understand they are not just transferring information but transforming lives."--Bill Moyers "Riveting . . . an essential addition to our national conversation about institutional racism."--Elliott Holt, author of You Are One of Them

Reading with Patrick Details

TitleReading with Patrick
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJul 11th, 2017
PublisherRandom House
ISBN081299731X
ISBN-139780812997316
Number of pages320 pages
Rating
GenreNonfiction, Autobiography, Memoir, Education, Biography, Writing, Books About Books, Biography Memoir

Reading with Patrick Review

  • Lori
    April 13, 2017
    I was a goodreads giveaway winner of this book. I like to read books about teachers and their students. This is a very nice one. Michelle Kuo went to a small town in Arkansas after graduating from college. She spent two years teaching in a town that was know for it's poverty. She taught children in junior high who were barely getting by in their education. She is especially focused on a student named Patrick. He is very poor a year behind in school and is doing poorly in his classes. She tutors I was a goodreads giveaway winner of this book. I like to read books about teachers and their students. This is a very nice one. Michelle Kuo went to a small town in Arkansas after graduating from college. She spent two years teaching in a town that was know for it's poverty. She taught children in junior high who were barely getting by in their education. She is especially focused on a student named Patrick. He is very poor a year behind in school and is doing poorly in his classes. She tutors him after school to improve his reading and writing. After two years of being a teacher she returns to college at Harvard to become a lawyer. Four years later she comes back to Arkansas and learns that Patrick is in jail for murder. For the next seven months she visits Patrick continuing with his reading and writing. They form a special friendship. She helps him to get his GED. and sticks with him over the next few years keeping in touch. This is nice book of how people can make a difference in each other's life. Don't want to give too many details. A nice read.
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  • Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
    May 30, 2017
    This is a book that was written for me, I think. Patrick is a trouble student from a difficult high school, and Michelle Kuo is a deeply committed teacher who wants to change the world one student at a time. Kuo bows to her parents' wishes and leaves her Teach for America stint in Arkansas to go to Harvard Law School, but later learns that one of her most promising students is in jail awaiting trial for murder. Kuo resolves to meet with Patrick one-on-one and tutor him, and she does, with amazin This is a book that was written for me, I think. Patrick is a trouble student from a difficult high school, and Michelle Kuo is a deeply committed teacher who wants to change the world one student at a time. Kuo bows to her parents' wishes and leaves her Teach for America stint in Arkansas to go to Harvard Law School, but later learns that one of her most promising students is in jail awaiting trial for murder. Kuo resolves to meet with Patrick one-on-one and tutor him, and she does, with amazing results. It's a story for struggling teachers and dedicated teachers alike.
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  • Aida
    May 1, 2017
    Reading with Patrick is a smart, sensitive and beautifully written portrait of an intimate and transformative teacher-student relationship. Kuo defies the hackneyed genre of the inspirational teacher's memoir, producing a narrative that is neither sentimental nor nihilistic, but insistently tender, self-reflexive and honest. While the heart of the book is a personal story of human connection, Reading with Patrick is also deeply researched and thoughtfully engaged with the history of the American Reading with Patrick is a smart, sensitive and beautifully written portrait of an intimate and transformative teacher-student relationship. Kuo defies the hackneyed genre of the inspirational teacher's memoir, producing a narrative that is neither sentimental nor nihilistic, but insistently tender, self-reflexive and honest. While the heart of the book is a personal story of human connection, Reading with Patrick is also deeply researched and thoughtfully engaged with the history of the American South, critiques of mass incarceration, and contemporary debates in education policy. And, it's bursting with stunning readings -- generated by both Kuo and her student, Patrick -- of a wide-ranging oeuvre of poetry and prose. This is a beautiful, challenging, important book. Highly, highly recommend.
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  • Linda Lipko
    June 24, 2017
    By far the best early review book I've received and read to date. I liked this book so much that is is difficult to put into words the beauty of it! Michelle is inspired to enroll in the Teach for America project. She lands in the Southern Delta in Helena Arkansas. Helena is a sleepy town with little outlet, majority of the people are black, and there are very few jobs.Her parents came to America from Asia. Before arriving in Helena, she read Malcolm x, many books of Martin Luther King, Jr. and By far the best early review book I've received and read to date. I liked this book so much that is is difficult to put into words the beauty of it! Michelle is inspired to enroll in the Teach for America project. She lands in the Southern Delta in Helena Arkansas. Helena is a sleepy town with little outlet, majority of the people are black, and there are very few jobs.Her parents came to America from Asia. Before arriving in Helena, she read Malcolm x, many books of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement. On fire to impart her knowledge to a classroom of students who landed in a STAR program composed of those who are on the verge of flunking. She takes a special interest in all her students as she learns of their backgrounds and the many things stacked against them, including families with drug addictions, sisters who have more than one child at an early age, incredible poverty, and because most are black they have an extreme low self concept and and inability to use punctuation, to understand, and to write their thoughts and feelings. Feeling there is no way out of their situation, sadly this equates to the belief that there is nothing they can do to rise about it all.She takes particular interest in Patrick who is quiet, does not engage with fights of others, and seems to have a desire to learn. When the Star program ends after two years, she attends law school at Harvard. Graduating, she has a lucrative offer, but learning that Patrick has been jailed for murder propels her to return to the Delta to learn more , and to perhaps apply her legal knowledge to assist him.She learns that, as many, Patrick's case is shoved to the bottom, and he doesn't even know if a lawyer is assigned to him. Sadly, while protecting his sister who he deems as "a little slow,", he overreacts when a boy either high or drunk argues with him. Patrick doesn't remember much, other than the boyfriend is dead as a result of multiple stab wounds as a result of a fight on his porch.Michelle takes much of her time and effort in visiting Patrick and teaching him poetry, YA books such as The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, and many other books she feels will help him. While he is depressed and knows he must pay for what he did, Michele is the ray of light that propels him forward.This is a book about racism, poverty, the abject discrepancy of how blacks are treated opposed to whites, not only in the educational system, but in the legal system as well. It is a story of trying to beat the odds. Mainly, it is a story about a person who cares from the bottom of her heart. She listens, she cares, and together the stories and poems Patrick reads open up a new sense of awareness in both of them.For seven months, before his hearing in court, they read the stories of Malxom X, Frederick Douglass, James Baldwin. It is poetry that unlocks his soul, and Michelle's challenging methods of teaching push him to a place where he tries desperately to apply the stories to his life.After writing this, I still don't think I can express the power of this book. Mainly, those of us who read book after book, can relate to the power of words well written. Some of us who have had less than perfect childhoods, can try to understand the ways in which our past impacts our future, and that by leaving behind the damaging memories, one can, if they are motivated, try to live with a new paradigm and move forward. And, sometimes one distinct person can make a difference.That difference however, can only go so far. And, as Michelle learns after Patrick's trial, plea bargain and eventual release from jail, she cannot save the world, or one person. Five stars for this book that brought smiles, tears and that reminded me once again why I love the power of words.
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  • Glady
    May 5, 2017
    I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship stands as the best book I have read this year. Michelle Kuo, an Asian-American Harvard graduate, opts to join Teach for America and spend two years in rural Arkansas. Kuo's parents are mystified and question her motivations and long-term goals. Their questions, however, serve as a counterpoint Kuo's questions and doubts about her purpose and effective I received a free ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.Reading with Patrick: A Teacher, a Student, and a Life-Changing Friendship stands as the best book I have read this year. Michelle Kuo, an Asian-American Harvard graduate, opts to join Teach for America and spend two years in rural Arkansas. Kuo's parents are mystified and question her motivations and long-term goals. Their questions, however, serve as a counterpoint Kuo's questions and doubts about her purpose and effectiveness. Is she making a difference? Does she have a right to impact anything when she always has the option to leave? Are her intentions to bring literature and wonder to a forgotten population intrinsically selfish?Kuo effectively describes her initial teaching experiences as disastrous. She had great ideas of what she needed to do but these ideas bore little relation to what her students - intellectually, physically, socially and emotionally bereft - actually needed. With no guidance and lots of missteps, Kuo's manages to bring some light into the drab world of her students. Kuo's description of the alternative school in Helena, Arkansas reveals an educational system that did not have any commonality to any experience I had with nearly 40 years as a public school educator. Certified teachers? Of course not. Books? Of course not. Caring child-centered discipline system? Only if you consider a paddle to be effective. Kuo's lack of educational theory allows her to break the rules of many public school systems. These students, however, have been abandoned by the system. Neither the system nor Kuo's students had dreams or hopes or expectations. Their world was limited and colorless. Few graduate from high school and higher education is not a consideration. They had committed the sin of being born poor and black.One student, Patrick Browning, is fifteen when Kuo first introduces him. He and his classmates are barely literate. Through trial and error, Kuo brings young adult literature into their world. Patrick becomes a favorite and her effectiveness and success are based on Patrick's growth. After two years in the Delta she leaves for law school, uncertain as to the lasting impact of her two years of service.While in law school and beyond, Kuo continues her quest to make a difference. She intends to take a job in the public sector when she learns that Patrick, now nineteen, is in jail awaiting trial for murder. There is no doubt that he caused the death of an unarmed man. Kuo returns to the delta, eventually postponing her planned move to California and employment. For the next few months, Kuo visits Patrick in jail as he awaits trial. Here the two resume Patrick's education with literature and writing. Over the next few months, Patrick's intelligence and personality shine while Kuo, along with her readers, are exposed to the nightmarish legal system. Prior to trial, Patrick has no access to a lawyer since the public defender system is so limited in Arkansas. Also, the trial calendar is so time-constrained that defendants spend months and months in jail without appearing before a judge. Patrick meets his attorney on the same day that he accepts a plea deal for manslaughter. There has been no investigation, no victim impact statements, no understanding of the charges, and no real justice. Reading this section reminded me of the movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird minus the impassioned Gregory Peck.Reading Kuo's memoir is almost painful; I had to keep reminding myself that the events happened in the 21st century. As a country, we still leave too many of our citizens to the whims of chance. Reading this book brought easy comparisons to The Other Wes Moore. Both open up an America that many of us don't know or even believe exists.
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  • Heidi Dawn
    May 23, 2017
    Where to start? Other reviewers have captured this beautiful memoir so well. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for this opportunity!Kuo's Reading with Patrick was stunning. Kuo chronicles a time when she taught with Teach America in Arkansas and some years after. She is clearly a gifted teacher. Full of history, literature, beautiful imagery and insightful sociological and psychology commentary- the memoir is truly astounding- it really packs a punch Where to start? Other reviewers have captured this beautiful memoir so well. I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you for this opportunity!Kuo's Reading with Patrick was stunning. Kuo chronicles a time when she taught with Teach America in Arkansas and some years after. She is clearly a gifted teacher. Full of history, literature, beautiful imagery and insightful sociological and psychology commentary- the memoir is truly astounding- it really packs a punch! Never self-righteous or strident, rather it is both compassionate and honest, this in itself, given the subject matter of the US's abhorrent treatment of African Americans and the sheer magnitude of a problem spanning centuries, is noteworthy. The relationship of Kuo and her student Patrick is quite moving. They worked together when she taught his high school class and after he was arrested for killing a man as an adult. So many passages spoke to me. In particular at the end, Kuo ponders what the impact of an authentic relationship does, that of course one hopes to be impacted and affected, not out of pride but because that is the purpose of life, basically, to connect and be affected. Words cannot really express for me fully, how impressed I am by the story, the scholarly weaving of history and literature, and the beautiful portrayal of human bonds and caring, and the potential they are for catalyzing shifts in our lives.
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  • SundayAtDusk
    May 9, 2017
    My guess is this memoir will probably be one of the most noteworthy and newsworthy books of the year. Michelle Kuo comes across so real, so smart and so caring of Patrick and her other students. She is not a person with a messiah complex, but a person who truly wanted to change the lives of her students, particularly Patrick. When her 2-year Teach For America job was coming to an end, she discovered she did not want to leave Helena, Arkansas; but could not bring herself to go against her immigra My guess is this memoir will probably be one of the most noteworthy and newsworthy books of the year. Michelle Kuo comes across so real, so smart and so caring of Patrick and her other students. She is not a person with a messiah complex, but a person who truly wanted to change the lives of her students, particularly Patrick. When her 2-year Teach For America job was coming to an end, she discovered she did not want to leave Helena, Arkansas; but could not bring herself to go against her immigrant parents' wishes for her to enter Harvard Law School, where she had been accepted. Regrets? She had a few and would one day return to Helena, specifically to try to help Patrick, when he was charged with murdering a man in a fight, in an effort to keep the man away from his younger sister. In the jailhouse, while awaiting the trial, Ms. Kuo and Patrick would read and write and discuss, just as if they were back in school. Patrick's writing and reading comprehension skills once again flourished under Michelle Kuo's tutelage. He skillfully analyzed poems and wrote long, tender letters to his young daughter. But would what he was reading, writing and learning help him defeat the crushing disadvantages and inequality in his life? Don't look for a movie type ending for this story. Look instead at how one caring person can change the life in some ways of a person who needs concern and attention. Look at how reading books and continuous writing can change how a person thinks and writes and feels. Look at how a person can really do something to make the world a better and more just place; not just talk about doing something, or write about doing something, or fantasize about doing something. Genuinely doing something, one on one.(Note: I received a free ARC of this book from Amazon Vine.)
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  • Milli (MiracleMilliReads)
    May 1, 2017
    I Absolutely loved this book not only because it was based on a true story, but how someone can be a change in someone else's life just by believing and helping others. The author wrote about her story and how she put her judgement aside and decided to still help out one of her students.Author Michelle Kuo, graduated from college and moved to a town known for poverty in Arkansas. She worked as a junior high teacher to help kids who were barely passing their grade level. She mainly focuses on one I Absolutely loved this book not only because it was based on a true story, but how someone can be a change in someone else's life just by believing and helping others. The author wrote about her story and how she put her judgement aside and decided to still help out one of her students.Author Michelle Kuo, graduated from college and moved to a town known for poverty in Arkansas. She worked as a junior high teacher to help kids who were barely passing their grade level. She mainly focuses on one student named Patrick who is very poor, a grade behind, and about to fail again. Michelle tutors him everyday after school to improve his reading and writing skills. Two years later she returns to college to study law for four years. Once she was done, she came back to Arkansas and finds out Patrick was in jail for murder. She goes to visit him and continues his education for the next few months. They form a special bond and remain in touch through his journey behind bars.I loved this memoir and how amazing Michelle is to find and interest in helping others. Also, she was so honest about her life and how she is a mistake making human just like every else. I love this rural story and the way it was written. I recommend to all readers and it is a learning experience. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCADH...
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  • Shirley Freeman
    May 1, 2017
    I really enjoyed this thoughtful memoir of a relationship between teacher and student. Kuo is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who drilled her in math problems at the dinner table. Kuo met Patrick when she began a Teach For America stint in rural Arkansas. Patrick was a poor, black 8th grader in one of the poorest school districts in the nation. He was ready to 'fall through the cracks' of our education system when Kuo began to mentor him. Patrick was beginning to thrive when Kuo left to att I really enjoyed this thoughtful memoir of a relationship between teacher and student. Kuo is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who drilled her in math problems at the dinner table. Kuo met Patrick when she began a Teach For America stint in rural Arkansas. Patrick was a poor, black 8th grader in one of the poorest school districts in the nation. He was ready to 'fall through the cracks' of our education system when Kuo began to mentor him. Patrick was beginning to thrive when Kuo left to attend law school, and then a few years later Kuo learned that Patrick was in jail for murder. Kuo writes compellingly about the hard decisions she faced - should she go to law school or keep teaching, begin her job in a non-profit or go back and try to help Patrick when he was in jail? All while recognizing that she had many choices and Patrick had few. I understand that tension between working for justice by trying to change a system and working for mercy by being in relationship with people for whom the system isn't working well. Michelle Kuo grew up in Kalamazoo so I was excited to read the ARC of a book with local connections. This will be published in July.
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  • Amy
    April 30, 2017
    I was very moved by this book. I like that the author is honest about herself and her mistakes. I also didn't know much about the South, particularly Arkansas and the Mississippi Delta, until now. I love stories of teaching. Overall I feel that this book can encourage young people to contribute to society or at least to think about our responsibilities to other people.
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  • Sam Sattler
    June 27, 2017
    Michelle Kuo, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants to the U.S., both surprised and disappointed them when she announced that she was moving to Arkansas to teach the children of dirt-poor, poorly educated minority children in the Mississippi Delta there. Truth be known, Kuo was probably a little naive when she made that decision, believing that she could make lasting changes in the lives of her students in Helena, Arkansas. To her credit, Kuo remained optimistic throughout the two years she would spe Michelle Kuo, daughter of Taiwanese immigrants to the U.S., both surprised and disappointed them when she announced that she was moving to Arkansas to teach the children of dirt-poor, poorly educated minority children in the Mississippi Delta there. Truth be known, Kuo was probably a little naive when she made that decision, believing that she could make lasting changes in the lives of her students in Helena, Arkansas. To her credit, Kuo remained optimistic throughout the two years she would spend in Helena, and even though she touched the lives of her students only briefly, she did show them that they had more options than they believed. One young man, Patrick, intrigued his teacher from the beginning, and by the time he had finished 8th grade, Kuo felt certain that he was on his way to a surprising future, one that would let him escaped the low expectations of everyone in Helena. Sadly, that was not to happen for Patrick despite his good intentions and the confidence of his teacher when she left Helena to attend law school. Shortly after completing law school, Kuo learned that the young man had knifed a drunk who became threatening after walking Patrick's underage sister home from a party that featured drugs and alcohol as refreshment. Patrick was charged with murder and the city parked him in jail for 506 days before he finally got his day in court. Kuo returned to Arkansas where for seven months she used the prison setting to tutor Patrick in his writing and reading skills on a daily basis. There were many bumps in the road, but with patience and empathy, Kuo was able to turn Patrick into an able writer who regularly expressed his thoughts and dreams on paper - something he did every day in order to keep himself out of despair and fits of anger. Reading with Patrick shows what can happen when students are challenged by a teacher that really cares about their success and their future. The story is tempered with a heavy dose of realism, but there is little doubt that Patrick is a better man than he would have been had he never met a teacher like Michelle Kuo.
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  • Karen Lewis
    June 19, 2017
    Michelle Kuo—a first-generation, American-born daughter of Taiwanese parents—sidesteps the siren call of corporate America. Armed with her Harvard degree and infinite idealism, Ms. Kuo moves to Arkansas on assignment with Teach for America. The author's unflinching honesty and immersion into a culture and community vastly different from her own inform a deeper conversation about the role of education in contemporary American democracy.Placed at "Stars", a continuation school where incorrigible s Michelle Kuo—a first-generation, American-born daughter of Taiwanese parents—sidesteps the siren call of corporate America. Armed with her Harvard degree and infinite idealism, Ms. Kuo moves to Arkansas on assignment with Teach for America. The author's unflinching honesty and immersion into a culture and community vastly different from her own inform a deeper conversation about the role of education in contemporary American democracy.Placed at "Stars", a continuation school where incorrigible students are sent as a last resort, she discovers/invents ways to ignite her students’ intellectual curiosity and imagination. Her determination becomes a suit of armor as Ms. Kuo faces down insurmountable obstacles in order to teach basic literacy. The community of Helena, Arkansas has suffered generations of institutionalized poverty, racism, and neglect. One strength of Ms. Kuo's narrative is her juxtaposition of historical and legal facts with the realities she experiences while living in the region.One student, Patrick, earns a deeper focus. After Ms. Kuo leaves the Delta to pursue a law degree, Patrick lands in jail on a murder charge. The heart of this memoir concerns the evolving mentorship between Ms. Kuo and Patrick. Their minds meet in the realm of literature.Ms. Kuo reflects, “I realized how hard writing could really be. Physically, it changed you. You forgot to breathe. Your hand hurt. […] Only you would ever know how hard you concentrated, how you broke open a new space inside.”Poetry and creative writing are fertile fields for healing, untangling emotions, and sorting tough situations. I've seen this in classrooms for several decades, but never had the chance to read about another educator's process in bringing the gifts and challenges of literature, poetry, and creative writing to those who are most severely “left behind” in contemporary American schools and communities.I highly recommend this book to people devoted to the art of teaching, to those who aspire to teach, to those who are working in the most severely "left behind" schools, and to those who create educational policy. Fans of Azar Nafisi's READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN, Erin Gruwell's THE FREEDOM WRITERS DIARY, Esmé Raji Codell’s EDUCATING ESME, or Frank McCourt's TEACHER MAN will savor this compelling and suspenseful addition to the canon.This review is based on an ARC from Netgalley.
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  • Laurie
    June 23, 2017
    This memoir drew me in slowly and insidiously; Ms. Kuo finishes her degree at Harvard University, is accepted into the Teach for America program, and heads to Arkansas to change the world. As I grew to know Ms. Kuo and her middle school students at Star, the 'alternative' school in the Mississippi delta, I became enmeshed in their lives, both teacher and students. As a former English teacher myself, I wondered if this book would be too saccharine, or too heartfelt, or too tragic? It was none of This memoir drew me in slowly and insidiously; Ms. Kuo finishes her degree at Harvard University, is accepted into the Teach for America program, and heads to Arkansas to change the world. As I grew to know Ms. Kuo and her middle school students at Star, the 'alternative' school in the Mississippi delta, I became enmeshed in their lives, both teacher and students. As a former English teacher myself, I wondered if this book would be too saccharine, or too heartfelt, or too tragic? It was none of the above. It is a gripping and engaging memoir of a young woman who tries whole-heartedly to make a difference, to change a child's life. When she meets Patrick, a sixteen year old stuck in eighth grade, Ms. Kuo sees a glimmer of hope in this young man. As life buffets both Patrick and Michelle Kuo to unexpected places, his teacher never gives up on him. And I mean never - who can say that? For any teacher who always wanted to be 'the one,' the teacher who changes a child's life, read this book. For a new teacher, just starting out, read this book and be inspired by what it means to truly teach, and the incredible time and effort it takes to be amazing. To anyone who believes in the power of literature to change the world, read this book. I will never forget Ms. Kuo, Patrick, or the strength of character shown by them both.
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  • Angie
    June 19, 2017
    This is simultaeously a small story and a big one. Patrick Browning was failed by two American systems: our education system and our justice system. Michelle Kuo is a participant of both; she dabbles in teaching through Teach for America, and then she goes to law school. By the time she visits Patrick in jail, she is a lawyer, but there's not much she can do for his case. So she resumes her teacher role and they read and write together, with him regaining the literacy and thinking skills he had This is simultaeously a small story and a big one. Patrick Browning was failed by two American systems: our education system and our justice system. Michelle Kuo is a participant of both; she dabbles in teaching through Teach for America, and then she goes to law school. By the time she visits Patrick in jail, she is a lawyer, but there's not much she can do for his case. So she resumes her teacher role and they read and write together, with him regaining the literacy and thinking skills he had lost and then advancing farther than either imagined he would.So there's individual triumph here. But it's not a convincing triumph -- Patrick, of course, still struggles and has a felony on his record. And Kuo has this amazing experience with a student, but she is not a teacher; there are all kinds of differences between sticking it out in the classroom and this story. The claim that the world would be so much better if teachers just cared, like she does, rings hollow to anyone who is sticking it out in the trenches. If caring means visiting someone for hours a day in jail with 1-on-1 intensive tutoring, yeah, that would work great. But that's not what teachers' jobs entail. Yes, this story is inspiring and beautiful and has literary insight and wonder. It's also a little problematic, as many real life stories are. Kuo's not sure what she learned, and she's not sure what we should learn. But it's a captivating read, and well done, and a marvelous story. And it's an important snapshot of those educational and justice systems that should inform our perception of anyone who has been failed by them. I got a copy to review from First to Read.
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  • Brianne
    June 22, 2017
    I won an ARC from the publisher, not really knowing more than the blurb. I expected more of an anecdotal memoir, and with that expectation, the first part of the book was a 4-star read. But once I got into the actual "reading with Patrick" part of the story, magic happened. The author does such a good job of making you think about race and equality and education and responsibility to others. I had tears in my eyes many times nearing the end. This was inspiring and interesting and important all w I won an ARC from the publisher, not really knowing more than the blurb. I expected more of an anecdotal memoir, and with that expectation, the first part of the book was a 4-star read. But once I got into the actual "reading with Patrick" part of the story, magic happened. The author does such a good job of making you think about race and equality and education and responsibility to others. I had tears in my eyes many times nearing the end. This was inspiring and interesting and important all wrapped together.
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  • Stephen Yoder
    June 15, 2017
    Good writing takes you all sorts of places both spatially and emotionally. Reading is transformative, as is the act of writing. I care about these people. Ethics are important.There. I don't have much time but that is my review. I'd recommend this book. It makes me want to write and keep on reading. I hope Patrick is doing well.I rec'd an Advance Reading Copy and for that I am grateful. I'm only sharing this book with someone who has a heart, though. Michelle Kuo, I wish you well.
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  • Daisy
    June 8, 2017
    Reading with Patrick is one of those stories that will stick with you for a really long time. Telling the story of how the education system and justice system fails poor youth in the south, Michelle Kuo shows how just the smallest encouragement and changes could have made all the difference. Michelle Kuo is what the world needs more of; People who just care without needing anything return. This book takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from anger to hope. It is a touching story that Reading with Patrick is one of those stories that will stick with you for a really long time. Telling the story of how the education system and justice system fails poor youth in the south, Michelle Kuo shows how just the smallest encouragement and changes could have made all the difference. Michelle Kuo is what the world needs more of; People who just care without needing anything return. This book takes you on a rollercoaster of emotions ranging from anger to hope. It is a touching story that touches on a place in the map that doesn't get the attention it needs. I took my time writing this review because I couldn't quite organize my thoughts on this book and honestly, I still can't. It hits a nerve and leaves me speechless. My eyes have been opened and Kuo has encouraged me to be a better person. I guarantee that anybody who reads this story will be changed as well. Although the story is quite slow to unravel, every word and every description is absolutely vital in piecing together the story and it's purpose. I definitely recommend especially to anybody in the education field
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  • Stacy
    May 22, 2017
    This book really got to me. I'm a college math instructor and many of my students seem to have the problems of the world on their shoulders. I know that's what all 18 and 19 year-olds think, but that's just their limited view of life. The students I'm talking about are the ones who miss class because their drug-addicted parents kick them out of the house and they either oversleep because they had to sell their phone and watch or they're embarrassed because they only have one outfit to wear and i This book really got to me. I'm a college math instructor and many of my students seem to have the problems of the world on their shoulders. I know that's what all 18 and 19 year-olds think, but that's just their limited view of life. The students I'm talking about are the ones who miss class because their drug-addicted parents kick them out of the house and they either oversleep because they had to sell their phone and watch or they're embarrassed because they only have one outfit to wear and it smells. Even those students have a better deal than the ones in this book. In the beginning of the book, it's uplifting to see how Ms. Kuo's attention makes such a difference to all the students. They bloom in her class because they finally have someone who cares. I see that happen occasionally in my own classes and it keeps me from being overwhelmed by frustration at not being able to help all my students. The part that got me was what happens to those same students when she leaves. Maybe all teachers want to believe that they make a difference in someone's life. I know I'm that idealistic and I can't be the only one. The reality is, however, that once they're out of our classroom, they're faced with all the same problems. Sometimes caring just isn't enough. This book has stayed with me for weeks. On a recent conference trip, I even made a side trip to Helena, Mississippi because I wanted to see where the book takes place. I'm really not even sure why I thought it was important, and after driving around the streets, I'm still not sure. I think I was looking for a way to say that Helena isn't like the towns around mine. If it's smaller, or poorer, or just worse in some way, then my kids would have a better chance - the bloom will stick for some of them.If you work with kids, read this book. It will change you. It made me realize that I may never be able to change a student's life as dramatically as I'd like. But maybe...just maybe, I can help them see that they can change it themselves. In the end, however, the most important changes will be the ones those students make on my own life.
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  • Hanna
    May 25, 2017
    I really loved this book. It's reminiscent of Freedom Writers, but without the White-Savior complex. I felt that this story was an illumination into a world that is often ignored, a reality that thousands of black folks face in the rural south, and proof that human connection isn't a "cure" but a way to cope. I loved Kuo's sincerity and true compassion for her students, particularly Patrick. I appreciated her awareness of her privilege and her constant self-awareness of her reasons behind helpin I really loved this book. It's reminiscent of Freedom Writers, but without the White-Savior complex. I felt that this story was an illumination into a world that is often ignored, a reality that thousands of black folks face in the rural south, and proof that human connection isn't a "cure" but a way to cope. I loved Kuo's sincerity and true compassion for her students, particularly Patrick. I appreciated her awareness of her privilege and her constant self-awareness of her reasons behind helping Patrick for so long; is it to feel like a hero? To genuinely help him? Does she think she can fix him? Or is she just enjoying his company? This book brings up important points and asks even more important questions. I definitely think this is a worthwhile read.
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  • Julia Chuang
    May 10, 2017
    I read this book in a single frenzied sitting! (Though I did get up twice to grab Kleenex.) In the opening, Michelle Kuo writes about meeting her student, Patrick, a "wry and pensive" student who draws her deeply into his life. Over the next decade, Michelle and Patrick engage in an ongoing conversation that becomes, for each, a formative moral education. Kuo tells Patrick's story in direct sentences: true to life, often heartbreakingly so. The second half of the book slayed me. It was unrelenti I read this book in a single frenzied sitting! (Though I did get up twice to grab Kleenex.) In the opening, Michelle Kuo writes about meeting her student, Patrick, a "wry and pensive" student who draws her deeply into his life. Over the next decade, Michelle and Patrick engage in an ongoing conversation that becomes, for each, a formative moral education. Kuo tells Patrick's story in direct sentences: true to life, often heartbreakingly so. The second half of the book slayed me. It was unrelenting, morally demanding. After I read it, I found myself living a little slower, moving a little more thoughtfully, paying more attention to the past and to the present. It opened up to me new possibilities for the meanings (and change) we can make through cultivating thoughtful relationships with those whose paths we cross every day.
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  • Wanda C
    May 11, 2017
    A great never-give-up story: A person trying to help is rewarded with meanness; one person can make a difference, a group is treated less than they deserve, and how friendship blossoms where no sunlight lives.Based on a five-star rating, I give it five stars!1) Buy from the author in the future? Yes2) Did it keep me intrigued? Yes3) Story line adventurous, mysterious, and believable? Yes4) Would I recommend to a family member/friend? Yes5) Did my idea of the book based on the cover remain the sa A great never-give-up story: A person trying to help is rewarded with meanness; one person can make a difference, a group is treated less than they deserve, and how friendship blossoms where no sunlight lives.Based on a five-star rating, I give it five stars!1) Buy from the author in the future? Yes2) Did it keep me intrigued? Yes3) Story line adventurous, mysterious, and believable? Yes4) Would I recommend to a family member/friend? Yes5) Did my idea of the book based on the cover remain the same after I read the book? Yes. Once I read the book, I understood the cover art's symbolism.
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  • Phil
    April 30, 2017
    In "Reading With Patrick," I learned about the rural South and life in the Delta, which stands in stark contrast to the hustle bustle of American metropolitan areas along the coasts. Michelle Kuo, educated at Harvard, joins Teach for America and goes to Arkansas. We journey with her as she and her student, Patrick, develop a sincere and strong friendship, under most unusual and extenuating circumstances. I was immediately pulled in by this very personal story, turning page after page, captivated In "Reading With Patrick," I learned about the rural South and life in the Delta, which stands in stark contrast to the hustle bustle of American metropolitan areas along the coasts. Michelle Kuo, educated at Harvard, joins Teach for America and goes to Arkansas. We journey with her as she and her student, Patrick, develop a sincere and strong friendship, under most unusual and extenuating circumstances. I was immediately pulled in by this very personal story, turning page after page, captivated by not only the story but also Michelle's wonderful writing.
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  • Jane
    June 19, 2017
    I hope that readers of this book aren't surprised that a teacher--any adult who cares, actually--can have an amazing impact on a student. Research bears that out. In fact, building relationships with students has a bigger impact on academic success than most academic strategies (check out the research of John Hattie in his Visible Learning series if you double this.) Reading with Patrick is another in a long line of books where teachers soundly demonstrate this fact. To Sir with Love, Christy, T I hope that readers of this book aren't surprised that a teacher--any adult who cares, actually--can have an amazing impact on a student. Research bears that out. In fact, building relationships with students has a bigger impact on academic success than most academic strategies (check out the research of John Hattie in his Visible Learning series if you double this.) Reading with Patrick is another in a long line of books where teachers soundly demonstrate this fact. To Sir with Love, Christy, The Water is Wide and many more come to mind.Kuo adds the twist of continuing to work with Patrick long past the classroom, when she discovers he is in jail. She postpones her own life to see if she can help him, providing assignments and checking out his legal status. If you aren't aware of the impact one soul can have, read away as Kuo's tale is well written. But we should all know this by now and be eager to see our schools change into places where teachers actually have time for this cornerstone of student success.Thanks, NetGalley, for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Karen
    June 28, 2017
    I received an advanced readers copy of this book from librarything.com in exchange for a review. I absolutely loved this book. It felt like an honest encounter with race, teaching, and the legal system. The author doesn't sugarcoat her own failings and is open about the questions and concerns that the experience made her deal with. I'd recommend this to anyone struggling with questions about race and both the justice and education systems.
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  • Dick Whittington
    May 23, 2017
    I thought the description of the book was much more interesting and involving than the story itself. I felt Patrick was the true hero and his convictions stood out in direct opposition to the on-again, off-again nature of the main character. I was ready to close the book and give up about half way through, but remembered how strongly I was drawn to the description and forced myself to finish. When I finished I found myself feeling duped and disappointed by the story's lack of delivery on the pro I thought the description of the book was much more interesting and involving than the story itself. I felt Patrick was the true hero and his convictions stood out in direct opposition to the on-again, off-again nature of the main character. I was ready to close the book and give up about half way through, but remembered how strongly I was drawn to the description and forced myself to finish. When I finished I found myself feeling duped and disappointed by the story's lack of delivery on the promise and excitement of the description.
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  • Mike
    May 4, 2017
    Reviewed from an advance reader via Netgalley.An interesting book that manages to do both personal and political sides quite well. Kuo takes the story of her teaching in Helena, Arkansas and uses it to tell a story of race and inequality in the States. I really enjoyed that Kuo avoided any overly sentimental moments and questions her motives throughout the book (though she doesn't question her motives for writing the book). The book doesn't pretend to paint a rosy picture at the end - life hasn' Reviewed from an advance reader via Netgalley.An interesting book that manages to do both personal and political sides quite well. Kuo takes the story of her teaching in Helena, Arkansas and uses it to tell a story of race and inequality in the States. I really enjoyed that Kuo avoided any overly sentimental moments and questions her motives throughout the book (though she doesn't question her motives for writing the book). The book doesn't pretend to paint a rosy picture at the end - life hasn't magically been fixed. It's an honest look at life for her and Patrick.The ending could have probably used some editing as the book just seems to finish in a way that falls flat. It wraps up many years very quickly that feels out of step with the pace of the rest of the book. I also have some questions about the act of creating the book. Does Kuo have permission from all of her former students to use their works? Are any of the proceeds going to back to the community she is writing about? While she does write about the fact the she questioned her motives for teaching in the Delta, she doesn't raise any of the moral questions of writing about these people over a decade later.Even with these possible issues, it's a strong book that leads to many discussions about race, teaching, books and more.
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  • Kirsti Call
    May 12, 2017
    I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. What I liked: This book is a beautifully written memoir about the relationship between and teacher and her student. This book powerfully shows the good that one person can do for other people. Michelle Kuo writes well, honestly showing her own flaws and foibles, while helping us better understand the plight of poverty stricken African Americans in the south. Her description of Patrick and her relationship with him is I received a copy of this book from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. What I liked: This book is a beautifully written memoir about the relationship between and teacher and her student. This book powerfully shows the good that one person can do for other people. Michelle Kuo writes well, honestly showing her own flaws and foibles, while helping us better understand the plight of poverty stricken African Americans in the south. Her description of Patrick and her relationship with him is moving and poignant. What I didn't like: I wanted to learn more about Patrick's life and his family's struggles.
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  • Kristin
    January 13, 2017
    I very much enjoyed "Reading with Patrick," as it is rare to read a book that (successfully) combines an engaging story of personal growth and the power of human connection, with a nuanced and informed examination of larger societal dynamics (here, povery, race, and education in the rural South). The writing is honest, reflective, and beautiful, and I came away feeling that I had a real sense of Kuo and her student Patrick. I also learned a lot about the history of Arkansas and how it shaped the I very much enjoyed "Reading with Patrick," as it is rare to read a book that (successfully) combines an engaging story of personal growth and the power of human connection, with a nuanced and informed examination of larger societal dynamics (here, povery, race, and education in the rural South). The writing is honest, reflective, and beautiful, and I came away feeling that I had a real sense of Kuo and her student Patrick. I also learned a lot about the history of Arkansas and how it shaped the current education and prison systems. Highly recommend...I hope to see more books from Kuo down the road!
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  • Kathy
    June 13, 2017
    I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.Three and a half stars.Reading with Patrick is slow to find its rhythm, but once Kuo begins to connect with her students in the Delta, the book comes alive through her students. I wished for more anecdotes from her classroom - these sections remind me (in a good way) of Erin Gruwell's books written about and with the Freedom Writers. While Kuo is not a teacher by trade, she has the instincts and desire to connect with her students and the I received a digital ARC in exchange for an honest review.Three and a half stars.Reading with Patrick is slow to find its rhythm, but once Kuo begins to connect with her students in the Delta, the book comes alive through her students. I wished for more anecdotes from her classroom - these sections remind me (in a good way) of Erin Gruwell's books written about and with the Freedom Writers. While Kuo is not a teacher by trade, she has the instincts and desire to connect with her students and these interactions come to life. Kuo remains honest about both her own shortcomings and her students' - Patrick's, in particular - preventing the book from becoming simplistic or saccharine. Kuo shares a bit of history on the Delta region, and while necessary to understanding Patrick and current circumstances in the region, these portions of the book are a bit dry and less personal. Perhaps most impressive is Kuo's reflections on race as an outsider, as an Asian American woman from Michigan transplanted to the deep South where she discovers great empathy and compassion towards Patrick, a man from very different circumstances. This is a moving and honest memoir.
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  • Susan
    June 26, 2017
    Michelle Kuo has told the story of her years in the Arkansas delta well. So often memoirs such as this take on a self-congratulatory note or glorify a particular individual. Instead, Ms. Kuo tells us about her struggles and her doubts. There are no attempts to sugar-coat the effects of deep poverty and the hopelessness it creates. Ms. Kuo points out the efforts of other teachers to provide a good education, and Patrick's lawyer to provide a good defense. She does not lay blame for the region's p Michelle Kuo has told the story of her years in the Arkansas delta well. So often memoirs such as this take on a self-congratulatory note or glorify a particular individual. Instead, Ms. Kuo tells us about her struggles and her doubts. There are no attempts to sugar-coat the effects of deep poverty and the hopelessness it creates. Ms. Kuo points out the efforts of other teachers to provide a good education, and Patrick's lawyer to provide a good defense. She does not lay blame for the region's problems on any institution or government agency. The narrative deals with issues of racism, both in how blacks and Asians are treated. While the end result of Ms. Kuo's private tutoring was not what either she or I hoped for, I felt that she had made a difference in his life and provided a means for him to examine his actions and plan for his future. Actual rating 3.5 starsI received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin's First to Read program.
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