When Rufus Henry was released on parole from the reformatory, his social case worker found him a job and told him that he...

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DURANGO STREET

When Rufus Henry was released on parole from the reformatory, his social case worker found him a job and told him that he must not join a gang. Within two days Negro Rufus left his job and became a member of the Moors--the inevitable reaction of a boy who lives in the area of the racially mixed Durango Street Housing Project and who has both pride and fear. His first night home, he witnessed some violence instigated by the Gassers, which meant that he became their enemy. Since telling the police would require retribution, his choice was between complete submission and degradation or banding with others for protection (""...the only way to stay alive in a big-city jungle was to join a fighting gang--before some other gang decided to use you for bayonet practice""). The ready insults at work simply sped up his decision to walk out and become a Moor. As the Moors, who shortly came under Rufus' leadership, slug it out with the Gassers, the author tastefully but honestly makes it clear just how dangerous these battles are. While the organization of gangs is undoubtedly more complex than the all-important matter of life or death, the frank recognition of this factor and of how serious life is for the teenager make this book welcome. Although it is with Rufus and his associates that readers will sympathize, the book is actually supposed to be about Special Service for Groups, an organization which sends group leaders to try to reorient gangs and eventually break them up. The S.S.G. representative who managed to attach himself to the Moors is a shadowy sort of person, and it is never quite clear why Rufus respects him more than the other social workers. His success is somewhat ephemeral (as presumably is often the case in reality), and the book ends with one problem cooperatively and successfully surmounted but with the future still unknown. This is a forthright presentation of a social problem which teenagers want and deserve to know more about.

Pub Date: Aug. 30, 1965

ISBN: 0141303093

Page Count: -

Publisher: Dutton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1965