FAST SAM, COOL CLYDE, AND STUFF

Stuff, the youngest, moves to 116th Street when he is twelve and a half, and this is by way of a fond memoir of the kids he came to hang out with. He is tightest with Cool Clyde, the gentle leader, and with Fast Sam, who can fight when he has to but is better at running; signify-in' Gloria is a good friend too and there are three or four others—all of whom feel so good about each other that the whole gang forms a club called the 116th Street Good People for mutual support and consolation in times of individual trouble. It's a far tamer bunch than the one Bethan-court ran into in Brooklyn (KR, p. 464, J-160), but they do have their typically inner-city adventures: the whole gang landing in jail for disrupting the hospital they rush to after Robin from another neighborhood bites a piece of Binky's ear off in a fight. . . Cool Clyde and Fast Sam winning a $50 dance prize as a couple—until Clyde rips off his girl's wig to sock a guy who tries to soul kiss him. . . all of them helping to save 118th Street Carnation Charlie from dying of an OD—only to hear later that despite the Good People's desire to help, Charlie has been killed during an attempted holdup. Stuff can be a little long-winded in Holden Caulfield-like digressions, and his friends awfully earnest in their discussions of sex and drugs, but in general his colloquial first-person narrative projects a sense of enviable group rapport with an easy mix of nostalgia and humor.

Pub Date: April 1, 1975

ISBN: 0140326138

Page Count: 200

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 1975

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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Awardworthy. Soul-stirring. A must-read.

PUNCHING THE AIR

Reviving a friendship that goes back almost 20 years, Zoboi writes with Exonerated Five member Salaam, exploring racial tensions, criminal injustice, and radical hope for a new day.

Ava DuVernay’s critically acclaimed When They See Us tells the story of Salaam’s wrongful conviction as a boy, a story that found its way back into the national conversation when, after nearly 7 years in prison, DNA evidence cleared his name. Although it highlights many of the same unjust systemic problems Salaam faced, this story is not a biographical rendering of his experiences. Rather, Zoboi offers readers her brilliance and precision within this novel in verse that centers on the fictional account of 16-year-old Amal Shahid. He’s an art student and poet whose life dramatically shifts after he is accused of assaulting a White boy one intense night, drawing out serious questions around the treatment of Black youth and the harsh limitations of America’s investment in punitive forms of justice. The writing allows many readers to see their internal voices affirmed as it uplifts street slang, Muslim faith, and hip-hop cadences, showcasing poetry’s power in language rarely seen in YA literature. The physical forms of the first-person poems add depth to the text, providing a necessary calling-in to issues central to the national discourse in reimagining our relationship to police and prisons. Readers will ask: Where do we go from here?

Awardworthy. Soul-stirring. A must-read. (Verse novel. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-299648-0

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: July 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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