So, I was really excited to read this book because one of the other books by this author is one of the best YA novels there is in my opinion. It was also made into an awesome After School Special when I was a kid as well. Todd Strasser is the author of The Wave. About a teacher who starts an experiment in the school that simulates the holocaust. And it is a very touching, haunting book in how realistic it is.
So, I'm sure this book is also very realistic, even though I have some complaints about it. In If I Grow Up, our main character is DeShawn (another male protagonist, go figure). DeShawn lives in a project where the Disciples are the gang to be a part of. Their rivals are the Gentry Gangsters from another nearby project. We go through DeShawn's life quickly from the time he is 12, and the last chapter is when he is 28 and in prison. It starts out that everyone knows DeShawn is different, smart, he could go somewhere. But as it always goes, he eventually gets swept into the gang. He resists a long time, until his family doesn't have enough food and he catches his sister drinking her own baby's formula. He isn't a normal kind of gangster who kills, at least not at first. He's kind of the brains that the head guy, Marcus, looks to for answers. Marcus is kind of a father figure to him. Marcus seems to really be above it all, and be fair, to the extent you can say that for a gangbanger. But when Marcus is shot, DeShawn learns Marcus was only 21, not as much older as he assumed from his "wiseness".
I understand this is what really happens. But I also know DeShawn had some chances that he chose not to take due to peer pressure. So, hey, you get what you get based on your own decisions sometimes. My opinion. I think it is horrible that this goes on, but I don't feel it is impossible to get out of. It is difficult I'm sure. But it can be done, and does get done. We just don't always hear about those stories because they are so few and far between. What's familiar and easy is just what people tend to do. So, that's what happens.
Okay book I guess.