A Matter of Souls

  • Interest Level: Grade 6 - Grade 12
  • Reading Level: Grade 6

From the shores of Africa to the bowels of a transatlantic ship to a voting booth in Mississippi to the jungles of Vietnam, all human connection is a matter of souls.

In this stirring collection of short stories, Denise Lewis Patrick considers the souls of black men and women across centuries and continents. In each, she takes the measure of their dignity, describes their dreams, and catalogs their fears.

Brutality, beauty, laughter, rage, and love all take their turns in each story, but the final impression is of indomitable, luminous, and connected souls.

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Interest Level Grade 6 - Grade 12
Reading Level Grade 6
Genre Young Adult
Category Diverse Books: #OwnVoices, Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diverse Books: Social Justice, Diversity
Copyright 2014
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Lab ®
Language English
Number of Pages 192
Publication Date 2014-08-01
Reading Counts! Level 5.3
Text Type Fiction
BISACS YAF057000, YAF046120, YAF058190
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.25 x 7.5
Lexile 810
ATOS Reading Level 5.5
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 164126
Accelerated Reader® Points 6.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Denise Lewis Patrick

Denise Lewis Patrick grew up in Louisiana and now lives in New Jersey. She has been both a writer and editor in various areas of the publishing industry. Visit her online at www.deniselewispatrick.com.


  • Children's Book Committee at Bank Street College Best Children's Book of the Year, Winner, 2015
  • Kirkus Best Teen Books of the Year, Winner, 2014


The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“These are ugly truths exposed, brought to life with an immediacy that breaks through the gauzy filters of history. Teachers looking for a YA complement to Richard Wright will find the multiple characters’ stories here both useful and bracing.” —The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

School Library Journal

“This would be a great book to introduce to a teacher to diversify classroom reading.” —School Library Journal


“Patrick does a phenomenal job of relaying the hopes and dreams of those who were determined to overcome what was inevitable…. A Matter of Souls is a wonderful addition to any library, especially those who have patrons who are studying history.” —VOYA

The Horn Book Magazine

“While the prose in these compelling narratives is sometimes pedestrian, the complexity of each moment marks its power.” —The Horn Book Magazine


“©ompelling and thought provoking.” —Booklist

Kirkus Reviews

“Shocking, informative and powerful, this volume offers spectacular literary snapshots of black history and culture.” —starred, Kirkus Reviews