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VOYA -Kata and Ana, Ana and Kata-amigas and gang members-are inseparable until a bullet from a drive-by shooting takes Ana out of gang life forever. Consumed with grief and hate, Kata searches for something to destroy, perhaps even herself. Ultimately, Kata realizes that another death cannot bring Ana back and that her only salvation lies in quitting the life. Party Girl tries to crowd too much into its brief pages; Kata's promiscuous alcoholic mother, the gang members and their problems, the conflict over leaving the gang, Ana's pregnancy, and Kata's attempts to save Ana's little sister from the life are just a few of the plot threads that never really mesh into a cohesive fabric.
The novel is really a series of set pieces, including vignettes of a drive-by shooting; hanging with the homies sharing tequila, forties, and weed; and a young girl's funeral. Better editing might have helped create a more cohesive plot and stronger character development. Pocho, the father of Ana's child; Kata's foster brother, Kikicho, crippled in a drive-by and ready to quit the gang; and Ana and Kata themselves, never really become fully alive to the reader. The blend of mysticism and gangbanger hip is also confusing. Even the jacket art, which reproduces an especially sentimental illustration from a prayer card for the soul in purgatory, is likely to put off browsers. Offer your leaders Léon Bing's Do or Die (HarperPerennial, 1992) for a real-life examination of the LA gang scene.
VOYA Codes: 2Q 2P J S (Better editing or work by the author might have warranted a 3Q, For the YA reader with a special interest in the subject, Junior High-defined as grades 7 to 9 and Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).