JC Reads A City Wide Book Club
on July 23, 2015 at 3:01 PM, updated July 27, 2015 at 10:45 AM
Growing up on the tough streets of Newark in the 1980s, three boys made a vow to graduate from college and become doctors.
Sampson Davis, Rameck Hunt and George Jenkins not only accomplished that goal — in 2002, they co-authored a book, “The Pact,” that detailed their experience. Now Jersey City school officials want everyone in the city to read the book.
The citywide book club, dubbed JC Reads, is being led by Brittani Bunney, leasing and community relations manager for developers Paul and Eric Silverman. Bunney, 28, said the initiative is an outgrowth of her experience as “principal for a day” at School 22, after which she hosted a successful 2014 book drive to get kids reading during the summer.
Now, she said, she wants to “bridge” Jersey City’s disparate communities and promote literacy by having everyone read the same book. She’s working on getting the three authors of the book to come to Jersey City to host a discussion about it.
“The Pact” will resonate with teens and adults all over Jersey City, Bunney said.
“It’s a book about making your dream come true,” Bunney said.
If you want to join in, you have plenty of time to read the 263-page book: Bunney wants everyone to finish it by April 2016. The school district will be assigning it in waves to students.
Schools Superintendent Marcia V. Lyles said the book club idea started last year with school board member Ellen Simon, but the idea never took off. They contacted Bunney — Lyles said she is “like the Energizer Bunny” — to make it all happen.
The book, Lyles said, contains “a powerful message” for students about resiliency and setting goals. And its message is just as powerful for adults, she said.
“It really talks about a whole community pulling together,” Lyles said.
Citywide book clubs have become increasingly popular in recent years. Seattle was likely the first in 1998, where readers citywide tackled Russell Banks’ “The Sweet Hereafter.” Chicago hosts one every year, with the latest selection being the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay” by Michael Chabon.
Copies of “The Pact” are available at Word, 123 Newark Ave., and at the New Jersey City University bookstore, located at 2039 Kennedy Blvd. There’s also a version of the book for younger readers, “We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Pact Led to Success.”
Davis, 42, one of the book’s authors, said he was humbled to learn about JC Reads. An ER physician at several emergency departments in New Jersey, including Beth Israel Medical Center in Newark, Davis said “The Pact” is relevant to everyone, but particularly teens growing up in a place like Jersey City.
“It’s become the blueprint for so many people to realize their dreams,” he told The Jersey Journal. “I’m just so happy to see something that has a positive message has been embraced by so many.”
If you’d like to donate copies of the book, you can buy more than five copies from Word. Call 201-763-6611 for more information. If you can’t afford to buy it, Bunney has limited copies available. You can reach her at [email protected].
Terrence T. McDonald may be reached at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @terrencemcd. Find The Jersey Journal on Facebook.