Actual Rating: 3.75
It's taken me much longer than usual to write this review. My book blog had a great month featuring diversity, and Kelan O'Connell was a featured author. I take pride in writing a review for a book featuring a black male protagonist.
Things I liked:
I found that the character development for many of the main characters was good, especially Calvin Pierce, the main character. He was a black teen from an urban area, who made some bad choices. If only our black male youth could sit down,read this, and see they have options.
Calvin was a funny, bright, young and resourceful. He is a really good example that your neighborhood doesn't always have to define who you are. Let's not put sugar on *^&. Even in a "post-racial" country, many still find issue with making black men, even teenagers, great heroes. I like that Calvin is the center of all important events in this book. I also liked that he's not written to be a carbon copy of a white hero.
I loved Mei-Li. I liked that she was feisty, and ambitious, and the object of affection, WITHOUT being exoticized. This happens too much with Asian female protagonists or love interests. In fact many of the main characters have a certain relatability factor.
The back story is awesome, and makes the world building of the current town a wonder to imagine. Many books don't choose to focus a town built by Chinese immigrants. That tends to be "forgotten" history, mainly because white men didn't do it. That within itself made it very unique to me. =)
Delta Legend also kills in diversity. Mind you there aren't a ton of main characters. But the characters whom are central characters make up an extremely rare, and diverse group of people. Women, men, children, people of many races mingling and coming together. Plenty of conflict. This is really who the world should be. If a small town can come together and solve a problem this big, Im trying to figure out why an entire country cant figure out why many don't have health insurance.
I liked that the diversity in the book gave it that "community" based feel. Small towns like the Delta don't often showcase diversity in any way, and I think that made me relate that much more to the multiculturalism in the book. Calvin himself also gives a type of empowering image for young boys to aspire to. He reminded me a little of Moses in "Attack the Block." He was a kid everyone rode off as this delinquent, and in the end, he was the reason everything in the end worked out. I swear I want to cry at moments like that. Because Black men don't get chances too often to be more than the "thug" or the "gangster."
The POV is also written clear enough to see that it's in 3rd person, but the voices are clear whenever the pov changes.
The cover suits the book, as well as the title. It also did take a bit of research to figure out which town this type of story would be appropriate in. I don't think one could've written this in one day. And with that, the editing proves it couldn't possibly be written in one day. It definitely meets the industry standard.
Things I struggled with:
Delta Legend had SO many characters.
There is good reason for this, but it often distracted me. Sometimes I wasn't sure if I was supposed to hold out before I started catching any type of attachment to a new character being introduced. The pacing was great outside of that small factor.
This is just MY opinion. Pacing setbacks are typically based on the individual, so having many characters may not set another person back. It just set ME back.
Sometimes I found a bit of issue with the language. Calvin himself didn't seem to particularly talk a certain way, so Im just wondering why everyone assumed he did. He did use slang, and maybe the slang he used I did feel was bit eh, but I suppose I only found issue with it due to him being the only black kid.
Some character descriptions werent very clear, but Im going to credit that to there being a bunch of characters who dont exactly make it to page 344.
Overall it's a really good read, especially if you like Chinese lore, a multicultural cast, a protagonist with COMMON SENSE, and an empowering person of color as the lead!