Age Range: 10 - 12
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There’s a poetic soul taking notes up on Amsterdam Avenue in New York City, and her name is Jazmin Shelby, the star witness to the hard lives and high hopes in a novel from Grimes (Come Sunday, 1996, etc.). Jazmin has her sights set on college, but meanwhile she keeps her eyes open, noticing all the comings and goings of her 1960s neighborhood from her front stoop. She records everything in her notebook, including a running commentary on her family, feelings, friendships, hopes, and disappointments. Her father has been dead a year, and her mother--a mentally unstable alcoholic-- is hospitalized; Jazmin’s life has included shuttling between relatives and foster homes, living in rat-infested tenements, and avoiding the everyday violence of the streets. Older sister CeCe is a source of strength, who, along with some supportive neighbors and teachers, have helped Jazmin hang on to her goals and resist the pitfalls of drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity. Peppering the first-person narration with poems from Jazmin’s journal, Grimes paints a vivid picture of her character’s surroundings. Especially effective are Jazmin’s witty descriptions of neighbors and local characters; just as compelling is Jazmin’s interior landscape, in which a wiser, more reflective voice hints at the young woman--and writer--she’ll become. (Fiction. 10-12)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-8037-2224-9
Page count: 100pp
Publisher: Dial
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1st, 1998


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