Crenshaw | Discussion Questions

Questions from the Read Brave Saint Paul Team

  1. When are the times in Jackson’s life that Crenshaw appears? Which events occur that create a need for Jackson to have Crenshaw in his life? Discuss Jackson’s comment about the name Crenshaw: “It felt like a blank piece of paper before you draw on it.” (p. 27)
  2. Jackson’s parents face the possibility of having to move out of their house. Where would you go if you couldn’t live in your house anymore? What would you do if you were Jackson and you knew that money was tight?
  3. Jackson has never told his friend Marisol about Crenshaw and about his family’s problems? Why does he decide to tell her now?
  4. How do you think things will improve for Jackson’s family now that his dad has a new job? Do you think Crenshaw will stick around? Why or why not?
  5. When Jackson’s parents announce a yard sale, they tell him and Robin to set aside their keepsakes. What kinds of keepsakes would you save? Why do you think keepsakes might be important to them right now?
  6. After Jackson finished first grade, his family has to live out of their car. What were some of the ways that Jackson learned to make the best of the situation? How would you try to make things better if you were Jackson?
  7. When Jackson’s father played his guitar for money when the family was living in their minivan, and didn’t want anyone else in the family to help. Why did he want to do it all alone?
  8. Jackson once shoplifted jars of baby food to feed his little sister, Robin. Do you think Jackson did a ‘bad thing?’ Why or why not?
  9. Jackson and Robin play “cereal ball” to forget about being hungry. Do you ever do anything to forget about your own problems?
  10. What did you learn about homelessness from this book? Do you have different feelings about homelessness after reading? What could you do to help families experiencing homelessness in Saint Paul?


Read Brave Saint Paul is a citywide, intergenerational reading program set around a common theme relevant to the city. The 2019 Read Brave theme is housing, a critical topic in Saint Paul where thousands of people struggle to afford housing. Learn more at