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Shooting the breeze with his boys. Tightening his D on the court. Doing a color check — making sure nobody's wearing blue or red, which some Crip or Piru carrying a cut-down golf club would see as disrespect. Then back to Auntie's, hoping she isn't passed out from whiskey at the end of the day. Now that Shawn is headed for high school, he wonders if he'd ...
Shooting the breeze with his boys. Tightening his D on the court. Doing a color check — making sure nobody's wearing blue or red, which some Crip or Piru carrying a cut-down golf club would see as disrespect. Then back to Auntie's, hoping she isn't passed out from whiskey at the end of the day. Now that Shawn is headed for high school, he wonders if he'd be better off at the school in Mama's neighborhood, where he'd be free of Compton's hassles. But then he wouldn't be with his fellas — cracking jokes, covering each other's backs — or the fine Marisol, who's been making star appearances in his dreams. Dad says he needs to make his own decision, but what does Shawn want, freedom or friendship? With teasing, spot-on dialogue and an eye to the realities of inner-city life, CHAMELEON takes on the shifting moods of a teenager coming of age.
It's a typical summer for 14-year-old Shawn. He's hanging out with his friends and avoiding confrontations with the roving gangs of Crips and Pirus, who think they own the streets of Compton, where his aunt lives and where he goes to school. But as he gets older and life on the L.A. streets starts to get more dangerous, Shawn begins to think that he'd fare better in the suburb where his parents live, even though he'd be a latchkey kid. And after a particularly vicious fight with a group of older gang members and some embarrassing scenes with drunken Aunt Gertie, Shawn's parents agree that he should attend his local high school in the fall. Is Shawn willing to trade his friendships with his loyal boys, not to mention a budding relationship with Marisol, in exchange for calm and stability in a new school where he knows no one? This episodic tale moves at the pace of the longest, hottest days of summer-slow, slow, slow. Despite the gritty and realistically drawn inner-city setting, most readers won't be able to maintain their interest through endless descriptions of minor incidents that never seem to build to anything substantive. Even the story's climactic fight fails to spark any real movement in the plot. Smith does a commendable job evoking the sights and sounds of street life, but without strong plotting, this meandering novel doesn't satisfy.-Meredith Robbins, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis High School, New York City
Posted April 24, 2010
This book is by far on of the best books i have ever read.
my son hates to read but ever sinse his teacher gave him this book he has read it twice in one week and still going.
he has not put the book down yet.
he told me that it was good so i went out and bought a copy for myself it is so good i will have a bok club about it.
Posted December 30, 2008
"The Crips and Pirus are black just like me, but they might as well be white and I might as well be living in the segregated South, because as far as I'm concerned if you can't wear what you want or go where you want, when you want, then you ain't free." <BR/><BR/>Charles R. Smith's CHAMELEON is a coming-of-age story that takes us into the heart of Los Angeles and the challenges that the main character, Shawn, is facing. <BR/><BR/>Throughout this book we see how basketball, gangs, girls, and friends make an impact on Shawn's summer and future. The descriptive account of Shawn facing his fears and developing into a teenager from a boy makes the story a good read for urban youth. <BR/><BR/>While Shawn improves his D on the court and falls in love with the "fine" Marisol, he is faced with the tough decision of whether to go to a school that is safe and free of gangs, or with his friends where he will fear the Crips and Pirus and have to see his alcoholic auntie every day. <BR/><BR/>The story is told with abrupt honesty and humor. Shawn's relationship with his father was my favorite section of the book. They set a great example for young men because Shawn trusts his dad and talks to him about serious life-changing events in his life. <BR/><BR/>Many males will be able to relate to Shawn's life and fears about his future, and that is why this book is one I would recommend to young men.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.