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Souljah's follow-up to her bestselling novel, TheColdest Winter Ever, is another gritty coming-of-age tale, picking up the story of Midnight (a character in Coldest Winter) as he tries desperately to navigate American culture, Brooklyn streets and the dicey business of growing up. The novel begins as seven-year-old Midnight and his pregnant mother, Umma, are forced to leave their privileged life in Sudan for a hardscrabble American existence. Midnight spends his formative years in Brooklyn guiding and translating for his loyal, loving and talented mother, helping her get a factory job while encouraging her to start a clothing line. Eventually, Midnight starts working at a Chinatown fish shop, finds love, joins a dangerous hustler's basketball league and tries to disentangle his ambivalent feelings toward romance, family and personal honor. Souljah's sensitive treatment of her protagonist is honest and affecting, with some realistic moments of crisis. Unfortunately, a slack plot and slow pacing cause serious bloat, and Souljah's distinctive prose is woefully unpolished. Frustrations aside, Souljah has obvious talent and sincere motives, making her a street-lit sophomore worth watching. (Oct.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.