Finally a new book by the author of Manchild in the Promised Land. Here he spotlights a group of teenagers who more or less live together (the arrangements are unclear) in a series of apartments in Harlem. They are graffiti artists, thieves, numbers runners, ex-prostitutes and one ex-junkie (one is still hooked); they live together to escape their wino stepfathers and addict mothers. Mostly their stories are depressingly familiar; what is unusual is the camaraderie which enables these youngsters to stay away from the worst forms of hustling and dope and gives them at least a slightly better chance of fulfilling their dreams: for Chips and Hebro a basketball career, for Nita the army, for Salt-Nobody a fix-it shop. They all prize the black values: being cool, being hip, being ""mellow,"" being street-wise; it's a style which makes white culture seem alien to them. But black families barely exist as solid entities in their world and fundamentally each of these kids is out only for himself. Brown never explains how he came in contact with them, or how he conducted the interviews. And although they live collectively, they are presented here as lone individuals; there is a curious void as to how or why they function as a group. An intermittently interesting look at a small group of teenage ghetto survivors.