Two more novelette-length bittersweet romances portray African-American teen girls embracing their independence after painful breakups.
In Carter's (Not a Good Look, 2010) “So Over It,” Zoey is devastated after her boyfriend breaks up with her via Facebook. Zoey, who narrates in a believably insecure and high-strung voice, is first in denial, then angry, then desperate to get Mario back. In adult street-lit author Elliott's heavier “Swag,” rich suburban girl Zori dates DeMarco Mobley, a drug dealer who puts pressure on her to break rules. Zori accepts expensive gifts, invitations to sneak out of the house and double dates with DeMarco's dangerous and disrespectful friend Jimmy, hurting and scaring her friends and parents in the process. Both stories thoughtfully address class conflicts between suburbia and the hood, and both feature supportive friends and family who show the narrators both compassion and tough love. A portrayal of an attempted date rape in “Swag” realistically addresses the issue (it is unfortunate, however, that the word the girls use to call out the perpetrator is “faggot”). Contemporary communication media, including texting and Facebook, are seamlessly integrated into the characters' social lives. Though neither story is at all preachy, conclusions that leave the protagonists strong and happy on their own send a welcome message.
Offer these affirming stories to any teen leaving a relationship, or starting one. (Fiction. 12 & up)