(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

This biography of Carver offers much to the young adult reader. First, it sends the message that all things are possible, providing a success story with which a youth from the most humble of circumstances can identify. Carver was born almost without an identity: He was without name, good health, good looks, money, or possessions. As an African American, he was born in a time when most opportunities were not available to him, causing him to ponder his role in society. His determination and steadfastness allowed him to overcome what appeared to be insurmountable obstacles and ultimately to become one of the world’s most admired people.

Second, in telling Carver’s story, Means vividly depicts the injustices that have been inflicted because of racism, and she provides a realistic setting for the denunciation of such prejudices. Examining the deleterious effects of racism in the context of the life of a remarkable, noncontroversial individual seems to be an effective approach to dispelling such prejudices. It is equally significant, however, that the author identifies those individuals who helped Carver in his life and career, establishing that there have been good, fair people in all periods of history.

Third, the content of the story is interesting and should be fascinating to most readers, both young and old. Carver’s struggles for a meaningful, fulfilling life are told in descriptive language that also examines aspects of the natural world and characteristics of divergent personalities. The accounts of his zest for learning, his uncanny ability to do the common things uncommonly well, and his creation of thousands of useful products from the...

(The entire section is 686 words.)