Lessons, frenemies and posturing abound in this pair of novelette-length bittersweet romances featuring African-American teens.
Simone's (Shortie Like Mine, 2008) “Hot Boyz” stars confident 16-year-old Chance, who prefers Atlanta's rougher Bankhead neighborhood to her rich mother's gated community. After catching her “trial run” boyfriend cheating at a Bankhead club, Chance meets her “chocolate knight,” the handsome, hard-to-get and, as it turns out, 22-year-old Ahmad. As their romance deepens, Chance becomes guiltily entangled in the lies she tells both her friends and Ahmad about their respective ages until, inevitably, a somewhat contrived string of bad decisions brings the truth to light. In debut author London's “Boy Trap,” head cheerleader Gabrielle, aka Easy Breezy, plans to follow in her mother's footsteps: snag an NBA-bound high-school basketballer, “trap” him by having sex and guarantee herself a future as a millionaire. But Tyler, the baller on whom she sets her sights, won't take the bait. As Breezy's disturbingly manipulative schemes escalate, so do Tyler's often didactic admonishments: “First, you have to be good enough for yourself.” The language in both stories is fresh and appealing, filled with contemporary slang, wordplay and censor-friendly modified curses (“Oh, hello!”), and each protagonist's pride has enough cracks to let the reader in.
Fun, if heavy-handed. (Fiction. 12 & up)