Carver Goodman dreams of becoming a photographer; but first he needs to graduate from high school. He spends his junior year worried about the same things that affect his peers—things like taking the ACT, bullying, and falling in love for the first time—but Carver's situation is a bit different, because h e's beginning to suspect that he's gay. As he struggles to understand himself in terms of his sexuality and how he fits into the world, he learns a lot about who he is and finds the strength to overcome the challenges life throws his way. Getting By is a touching and poignant coming-of-age novel that will resonate with any person who has ever felt like he doesn't quite fit.
Midwest Book Reviews - Diane Donovan
"Getting By is a fine young adult coming of age story centered on Carver Goodman, an African American student who has just turned seventeen, and dreams of becoming a photographer.
In addition to the usual challenges of school, bullies, and his ability to appreciate the pleasures of local nature, Carver acknowledges that he's at a crossroads in his life where everything is poised to change: "...lunch was where I could spend precious time with friends, something I valued because I knew our time together in high school would not last forever."
His ability to accept life's inevitable twists and turns and his changing role in it is one of the facets that keeps readers engaged in Getting By.
Another draw is Carver's ability to accept new beginnings that include a blossoming relationship with his good friend Jocelynn, questions about sexuality and life direction, and the choices he faces in honing his abilities in more than one way. More so than most accounts of African American young people, Sims cultivates the ability to present a multifaceted young personality on the cusp of various types of changes and confrontations in life.
This approach creates a character that has ambition, searches for his life purpose and connections, and who moves in a world where getting by is not the only choice. In his case, getting by would be falling into an easy relationship with his good friend. But opting for something more brings Carver into dangerous territory: "Donnell looked sexy not only in khakis but in jeans as well. I know it didn't count as cheating, but the way I looked at Donnell and some of the other boys at school almost made me feel like I was cheating on Jocelynn. When Donnell saw me after getting on the bus, he greeted me with a nod before sitting in the back. I was lucky enough to smell a hint of his cologne when he walked past me."
Too many young adult stories of African Americans also adopt relatively singular approaches, placing their characters in ghettos where influences are different. In creating a talented, aspiring young man who is facing both the pinnacle of success and some of his greatest personal challenges for building a different future goal, Jaire Sims goes far beyond getting by with stereotypical scenarios and approaches.
Who is Carver honoring when he makes decisions based on the expectations of others, and how can he stay true to himself and his loved ones while staying on an upward trajectory towards success and personal life satisfaction?
Carver Goodman's decisions and options on the cusp of adulthood create a compelling, uplifting, realistic story of a potentially successful young man and introvert who faces pressures and influences beyond those usually wound into African American coming of age stories. Getting By is an exceptional, thought-provoking read."
The Praries Book Review
"An engrossing and contemplative YA contemporary…
Sims makes his debut with this poignant YA which tells the story of 17-year-old Carver Goodman as he struggles to come to terms with his sexuality while grappling with questions of self-doubt and identity issues. Carver is a gentle teenager who is trying to score good grades in his junior year while ignoring relentless bullying at the hand of a pair of school bullies. When lovely Jocelynn comes into Carver’s life, he gets the courage to overcome the challenges life has thrown his way. Sims’s simple, accessible prose give windows into Carver’s life as he struggles with questions about his identity and sexuality while trying to deal with the harassment. Central to the narrative are Carver’s friends, Ava and Heather, who are richly drawn. Jocelynn is endearing. Carver’s decision to finally take a stand against his tormentors is portrayed beautifully, underscoring how even a tiny action can change the course of one’s life. This is a moving debut."