Book reviews of YA lit and more

As a middle school librarian and hopeful reader of Missouri's high school award books (Gateway nominees), I am reading and reviewing as many young adult and middle grade novels as I can while working on my own writing for this age group.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

If I Grow Up- Todd Strasser

DeShawn is growing up in the Frederick Douglass Project- land of drug dealers, nightly gun shots causalities, and gangs.  He is a smart kid that does well in school, and he tries to rise above the temptation of joining the gang in his neighborhood- Douglass Disciples.  This works until the day he has a realization that while his grandma, sister, and her new twins are starving at the end of every month when the welfare check has run out, while his friend Terrell is newly inducted into the gang and has a new flat screen tv, new shoes, new clothes, and enough cash to take care of his family.  He makes the decision to save his family the only way he knows how, and that decision ultimately becomes his downfall.  If you are looking for an uplifting story with a happy ending, this book is not for you.  Strasser does an excellent job of telling it exactly how it is.  It is heart wrenching to see the conditions kids are growing up in that live in these projects.  And the ending is realistic for how it must end for most of these kids.  This is definitely more for high school kids than middle school, and it would make for interesting discussion, especially for kids that think the gang life is cool or admirable.

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