In loosely connected, overlapping stories, three African-American teen girls in Atlanta navigate relationships with family, community and the boys and men in their lives.
Santana, a fly girl well known for her proud attitude, the designer clothes she steals from department stores and her hustler boyfriend Pharaoh, insists that Pharaoh isn't cheating, but deep down, she isn't sure. Dynasty, mortified by her mentally ill aunt and continually harassed by Rufus, her former best friend, meets a dreamy boy who helps her out of a tight spot, but she wonders if he has ulterior motives. Patience, the devoted daughter of a hypocritical, high-profile Christian minister, finds herself in a secret romance with a notorious teen rapper. The girls narrate alternating chapters, and each girl changes substantially and believably over the course of her story. The author has a clear message for readers about the importance of language and education: Dynasty studies a dictionary religiously in hopes of attending an Ivy League college, and Santana, after learning a few life lessons, decides to expand her vocabulary and divorce herself from “hood grammar.” Less convincing is Santana's reversal on shoplifting, which comes only after she gains a legal means of acquiring expensive fashions.
Even with a few false steps, the relatively complex relationships and refreshing variety of teen voices will engage readers. (Urban fiction. 12-16)