Steven has witnessed something horrible, but telling someone means breaking the code. Summit Book.
VOYAThirteen-year-old Steven lives in a gang-controlled area of Washington, D.C., with his mother and grandmother. He goes to a magnet school in Arlington, Virginia, along with his good friend, Taylor. Steven and Taylor are new members of the neighborhood gang, the Jags. Taylor joined because of his admiration for his older brother who is already a member, and Steven became a member as a way to protect his mother and make some money. They are witnesses to some of the Jags fatally beating a young boy. The question is what will they, particularly Steven, do—reveal what the gang has done or keep it a secret. Looking at the basic elements of this book—plot, characters, setting—leads to minor criticisms. The author's portrayal of District of Columbia geography contains inaccuracies, and it seems highly unlikely that Steven would be sent to an out-of-district school. Some characters lack depth, and like the plot, are occasionally manipulated too obviously to make the author's point. The ending is wonderfully positive, which, unfortunately, also makes it highly unlikely. Overall, however, this fast-paced, intriguing read teaches right from wrong, gives information about Malcolm X, describes the dangers of life in a gang-infested area, and presents a loving family struggling mightily to survive. What a great mother Ma is! The publisher produces more than seventy-five hi/lo books each year, offering many others like this attractively produced, normal-sized paperback with a cover that should help sell the book to the intended audience, Levine
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