This not only balanced the action of a racist regime actively trying to keep minorities down but also the more personal stories: Miles' crush on a poet, and fellow student, named Alicia. (She's black as well, which is only important because one of their teachers is pretty openly and grossly racist. While Miles bears the brunt of Chamberlain's wrath, Alicia isn't unaffected, and she's not the type to not get involved. I also wonder if Miles is more of a target because of his socioeconomic status - poorer, a scholarship student at this school - but also because he's half Puerto Rican. Or perhaps his family history on his father's side makes him the seemingly logical choice to torment for Chamberlain. His father, Jefferson Davis and his brother, Aaron, play a large role in this novel and started out poor, and resorting to petty theft and non-violent crimes to make their way through life. Jefferson managed to get out thanks to Rio, the woman who became his wife, and Aaron never did manage to go straight.)
Regardless, Miles is one of the most obedient students in school, and one of the more studious young people. He respects his parents, and his teachers, especially when they aren't racist.
And while Alicia and Miles' story isn't all about racism, by bringing the outside, the super villainy, into the school and by using it as something that does affect both Alicia and Miles, it means that the two storylines can't be completely separated. Reynolds can, and does, work on both those stories at once.
In addition, there are family issues: Miles, his roommate Ganke's family issues, and all this is worked in with an expert hand. There's a lot going on and Reynolds does it all with a fairly low word count. Not only that, it's fun to read. There are moments of despair, for both Miles and Ganke, but the way that they hold each other up and cheer each other up is the true friendship that is in the comics: warm, goofy, nerdy, and always supportive, even when one thinks the other is being an idiot. (Ganke does get pushy, especially about Morales and Spider-Man, but he's not so overly pushy that he comes off as manipulative or coercive and not all the time. Only when he truly believes in something, like Spider-Man.)
This was not only a charming read, but it had a lot of important things to say about racism and how systemic it can be. How it can poison minds, youths, and make them believe nothing will get better. How it can turn them down the wrong path, a path they may never get off no matter how much try. It was touching, funny, heartbreaking and all in character. It was, in fact, one of the best Marvel tie-ins I've read. I highly suggest this book, although I also warn you: you'll find it in the teens or young adult section. And you should. This is an important read, but especially for children, especially those who might not see their faces normally represented in comic books, or even comic book tie-ins.