The R Word

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By Marianne Modica

Morning Joy Media

297 pages.

The “‘N word’ equivalent for white people is ‘the R word,’” says Marianne Modica in her Foreword to this young adult novel. People cringe when they are called “racist.” A professor at Valley Forge Christian College, Modica trains future teachers in multicultural education. Racism is expressed subtly today, she says, “in ways that are so much a part of our lives that we don’t notice them.”

Through the eyes of Rachel, a sheltered Italian-American high school junior in a Philadelphia suburb who befriends city youths of color, Modica’s novel explores cultural misperceptions among groups who are isolated from one another. It touches on inequalities in educational facilities and long-standing racial hatreds, on a personal and societal level.

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