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IF I GROW UP by Todd Strasser

IF I GROW UP

By Todd Strasser

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Feb. 24th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-2523-1
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Inner-city teen DeShawn fights to keep his head above water while trapped in a violent, gang-ridden nightmare as his friends and family succumb to drug deals, murder and shootouts. At first, DeShawn is reluctant to join his project’s gang, but when he’s slapped in the face with poverty and sickness, he sees no other option but to enlist. Strasser’s fans will recognize and appreciate his mastery at creating a dangerously isolated atmosphere and setting that intensifies the life-threatening situation facing DeShawn and his community. His pacing surges forward with breakneck speed. Unfortunately, problems arise in form of plot and theme: Both have the subtlety of a ton of bricks. This, along with two-dimensional characters and dated, unrealistic dialogue, may put off many teen readers who are already reading titles with similar themes marketed to adults. That said, the author isn’t completely out of his element. His heart is definitely in the right place; he only needs to hone his message. (Fiction. YA)