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Summary: The seven stories in this book focus on real-life situations confronting inner city teens, with topics ranging from life in gangs to drugs, teenage bullying, and life in dysfunctional families. This is a collection of short stories about the challenges that confront our children.
Type of Reading: independent reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 9 to 13; read yourself: 11 and Up
Young Reader Reaction: This is a very interesting book. It reminded me of Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. I like how the individual stories center on a particular theme (regret, influence, luck). The CD gave me some insight on what the stories were going to be about. Overall, the book was entertaining and well written. It teaches kids like me good morals.
Adult Reader Reaction: The stories are written in street vernacular and, though the stories are graphically portrayed, neither the language nor the stories are gratuitous. These vignettes will resonate with junior and senior high school students and would be great conversation starters. The reader will understand how tough the living conditions are and how limited the options are for getting out of the urban jungle.
Pros: The stories are real, believable, and engage the reader immediately. The topics are situations that inner city teenagers face everyday. The stories in this book allow the reader appreciate the complexities that are an everyday part of life of inner city teenagers.
Cons: The author uses a lot of slang. It was effective in getting the point across, but it got a bit annoying sometimes.
Borrow or Buy: Buy! Parents should purchase this if they have middle school or older children at home. It should be a resource available to every middle school junior or senior high school Guidance Counselor, English, and Social Studies Teacher.
Educational Themes: Opportunities to read and discuss these stories at home, but certainly at school, could do wonders for developing a more tolerant atmosphere in public schools everywhere.
Notes: Book came with a CD
Literary Categories: Fiction - short stories, family, young adult, middle grade
Date(s) Reviewed: August 2005
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