Street Dreams

( 73 )


Love, Betrayal and Loyalty on the Streets of Harlem

Daruis, a.k.a. Rio, the only child of a singer turned alcoholic, feels he has nothing to hold on to except the idea of escaping the ghetto. Years ago, he took a gun charge for a friend and did some prison time. Unable to find a job when he gets out, Rio turns to hustling as a way out. In the meantime, Rio finds escape in the arms of his soulmate, Trinity.

When Trinity's mother died, her ...

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Love, Betrayal and Loyalty on the Streets of Harlem

Daruis, a.k.a. Rio, the only child of a singer turned alcoholic, feels he has nothing to hold on to except the idea of escaping the ghetto. Years ago, he took a gun charge for a friend and did some prison time. Unable to find a job when he gets out, Rio turns to hustling as a way out. In the meantime, Rio finds escape in the arms of his soulmate, Trinity.

When Trinity's mother died, her abusive father looks to her to play the role of house wife and bedmate. Trinity finds strength to endure in Rio's arms. Together they vow to do whatever it takes to make it out of the ghetto. But soon they find their backs against the wall when the streets come to claim their due.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"K'wan has really out done himself on this one. Street Dreams is a must read for any fan of urban fiction."

-Shannon Holmes, national bestselling author of Bad Girlz and B-More Careful

"K'wan delivers another classic with Street Dreams. . .You won't be disappointed!"

-Mark Anthony, Essence bestselling author of Paper Chasers

"Gangsta was hot and Road Dawgz hushed any and all who thought K'wan was just a passing thing. But Street Dreams is a classic. The kid has got a story to tell."

-Darren Coleman, Essence bestselling author of Before I Let Go

"K'wan has done it again with another bangin' tale of the streets. . .This is by far K'wan's best work. The game is over!"

-Joy, Essence bestselling author of Dollar Bill

"K'wan promises to bring the good ol' days back to literature. . .when authors existed that wrote such gripping tales that you never had to question whether or not you should cop their books. K'wan's stories are always satisfaction guaranteed, with characters that you can see and feel. With Street Dreams he is set to take over the griot of a new generation. Make way for the Donald Goines/Iceberg Slim of our era."

-Tracy Brown, author Black

"If you thought Gangsta and Road Dawgz were bestsellers. . .wait until you read this! K'wan is raising the stakes for all of us. He's a triple threat to the industry."

-KaShamba Williams, author of Blinded and Grimey

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312333065
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/2004
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 100,919
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.28 (h) x 0.81 (d)

Meet the Author

K'WAN is the #1 Essence bestselling author of Welfare Wifeys, Section 8, Gutter, Still Hood, Hood Rat, and others. He wrote his first novel, Gangsta, as a therapeutic release, and it went on to become an Essence bestseller and a part of urban-lit history. In 2008 he received the Black Author of the Year Award from Black Press Radio. He has been featured in Time, KING, The New York Press, and on MTV and BET. Besides an author, K’wan is also a motivational speaker, a mentor to at-risk children and the C.E.O. of Black Dawn, Inc. He lives in New Jersey.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"Y'all niggaz line the fuck up. Everybody gonna get served, just hold ya head." The corner managers barked their instructions and the fiends did as they were told. That's just the way it went in the hood.

Darius, also known as Rio, stood against the project building puffing his Newport, dark eyes constantly scanning the block for police. Rio was a handsome young cat. He was about six-foot-three with pretty raven-colored curls decorating his crown. The girls at his high school would always mess with him, saying he was a dark, pretty nigga. But he felt he was just him.

By most standards, Rio was a good kid. Smart, well educated, and soft-spoken. He was respectful to his elders and fair when dealing with people on the streets. From speaking to him, you couldn't tell that he was an on-again, off-again field lieutenant for the local drug czar. The title he held was a 'manager.' What a manager did was just make sure that things went smoothly while he was on shift. It wasn't a glamorous job, or even the highest position in the chain of command. But Rio was content to do his little part. It was just to keep money in his pocket or food on his table, until he could secure a legit job.

Rio spotted his man, Shamel, and moved to greet him. Shamel was a short fat nigga with a lazy eye. His lips were too big for his small face and often hung down when he talked. Shamel's razor-bump-ridden, brown face bore scars that were the result of fights on the streets as well as in the system. Shamel might've been ugly, but he was a bull waiting to charge.

Niggaz in the streets gave him his space. He was Rio's right-hand man.

"Sup, my nigga?" Shamel asked, placing his fist over Rio's heart.

"Another day on the grind, kid," Rio said, returning the gesture. "The block is a li'l slow this morning. Ma fuckas act like they don't wanna get high."

"Walk with me, yo?" Shamel said as he started off toward the ave. Rio looked at the dwindling flow of addicts and figured, why the hell not? After finding someone to relieve him, he strolled with his man to the ave.

The after-school program was letting out, so 104th and Columbus was flooded with little kids running back and forth. Rio and Shamel posted up by the courts on 104th between Columbus and began the day's politics.

"What's new, player?" Rio asked.

"Ma fucking same thang different day," Shamel said, lighting a cigarette. "I just came from seeing one of my baby mamas and shit."

"Who you was laid up wit, big-boy?"

"Man, Meeka crazy ass. I ain't been wit her like that since Shawn was like two, and he's five now. Fuck is that telling you?"

"Man, but you be leading them bitches on."

"How the fuck you figure, Rio?"

"Because, you still fucking em. You say you don't love em anymore, but you still answering them four a.m. phone calls when them sack-chasers ring you."

"Fuck you, Rio," Shamel said, blowing out a smoke ring. "Pretty ma fucka, always think you know some shit. We can all be like you and Trinity. Leave-it-to-Beaver ma fuckas."

"Nigga, don't hate cause my boo-boo down for me. Trinity is my A-like and I'm hers."

"What the fuck ever wit that ABC shit. You know what I mean. These bitches is too full of game for my taste."

"Then stop raw dick'n em."

"Whatever, nigga. What that block like?"

"It's a slow go, dick. But I cope wit it."

"Fuck that. Y'all niggaz be out here twenty-four/seven any weather clicking. You might as well get a job for all that. A nigga like me," Shamel said, beating his chest. "I'm gonna get my marbles regardless."

"Fool, you make your living by force, mine is by choice. We don't put a gun to nobody's head and make em buy this shit. Ma fuckas get high in the hood cause they want to."

"Same shit, punk. We both doing dirt."

"Ah," Rio said, shrugging his shoulders. "We make the best out of what we have."

The two friends popped a little more shit and watched the day go by. Rio and Shamel had been friends since grade school. Rio was a grade over Shamel and used to tutor him in the after-school program. People used to make fun of Shamel and call him stupid, when he was actually quite the opposite. Shamel was a wiz with numbers, he just had a problem with reading and writing. The problem wasn't stupidity, it was dyslexia.

"What's on for the night?" Rio asked.

"It's Thursday, kid," Shamel said. "You know niggaz is probably gonna roll through Vertigo. What up, you trying to go?"

"Nah, not tonight."

"Yo, Rio, you need to get off that bullshit. You don't never go nowhere anymore. Fuck is you a hermit or something now?"

"Nah, I'll probably chill wit Trinity tonight."

"Let me find out you sprung. Nigga, it's wall to wall pussy in the club, yet you content wit the same ol' cracker. What up wit you, Rio?"

"Y'all niggaz just got the game fucked up, Shamel. Wit me it ain't really about how many bitches I can fuck. I been through all that shit already. I can be content wit one girl, cause me and Trinity is like that. She's more than just a lover, she's my friend too."

"Fuck outta here," Shamel said spitting. "You expect me to believe that shit?"

"Believe what you want, kid. It is what it is wit us."

Their conversation was interrupted when a Benz truck pulled to the curb. The Benz was forest green with 22-inch chrome rims. All the windows were tinted, totally concealing the occupants of the truck. But everyone in Douglass knew who the vehicle belonged to.

The driver stepped from the truck, first giving a brief look around. He was a fifty-something slim cat, with skin the color of a moonless night. His processed hair shone like a waxed floor in the afternoon sun. A passing breeze pushed the jacket of his gray suit open, just enough to expose the butt of the 9 in his belt. His birth certificate read James Woodson, but the streets called the five-foot-five man Li'l J.

Li'l J went around to the other side and opened the door for his boss. The man who stepped from the truck was an even six feet. He had brown skin with salt and pepper hair. His royal blue suit was custom-made to fit his lean frame. With both his fists flooded with diamonds, he looked more like a retired movie star than a drug lord. His name was once Teddy Brown, but now he was known as Prince. Lord of the crack game.

Li'l J started in Rio's direction with Prince bringing up the rear. Something about Prince always made Rio uneasy, but he tried not to show it. He didn't want the big man to think he was some starstruck punk. But still, an air of greatness clung to Prince like a second skin.

"Sup, li'l nigga," Li'l J said, giving Rio a pound. "What it look like?"

"Ain't nothing old-timer," Rio said. "I'm just trying to make a dollar like everybody else."

"I hear you, kid. Fuck you doing round here?" Li'l J asked, directing his attention to Shamel.

"I know you ain't bringing that bullshit round here."

"Damn," Shamel said in an annoyed tone. "Ain't nobody doing nothing. Why don't you be easy, J?"

"What?" Li'l J said, reaching for his pistol. "I know you ain't getting smart? What you say?"

"I ain't say nothing, man." Shamel said in a submissive tone.

"Punk ma fucka. I know you didn't," J sneered. "Why don't you take a walk, kid? Prince wanna holla at ya boy."

Shamel wanted to say something slick, but thought better of it. J might've been getting on in years, but he was still a dangerous cat. One day Shamel would have a surprise for the old bastard, but not today. Shamel slapped his man five and bounced.

"Was that Shamel?" Prince asked, strutting over.

"Yeah," J said, watching the big man depart. "That was him."

"Why you hang wit that kid, Rio?" Prince asked, concerned. "Fucking thief. Niggaz like him is only destined for the penitentiary or the grave."

"Maybe," Rio said in a serious tone. "But nine times outta ten the same rewards wait for most of us who play the game."

"You sure is a philosophical ma fucka, Rio."

"Hey, I can't help the way life is. I just call it like I see it, Prince."

"Sure ya right, kid. Come on and walk with me."

Prince started off toward Central Park West with Rio at his side and Li'l J bringing up the rear. They strolled past the end of the projects and across Manhattan Avenue. The walk from Columbus to Central Park was like walking through an evolutionary scale. Where the projects ended, walk-ups and little town-house-like structures began. The town houses ended making way for the luxury apartments. It was like stepping into a whole new world in a few short blocks.

Prince stopped near the mouth of the park and took in the scenery. White folks were walking their dogs, riding bikes, and doing all sorts of outdoor activities. All carrying on as if they were oblivious to the fact that there was a crack-infested housing project a block away.

"Look at this shit," Prince said, motioning toward a young white couple strolling through the park. "Strangers in a strange world. Few years ago you wouldn't have seen no shit like this. This whole area was black and Spanish. Now we got the 'Caucasian invasion.'"

"I feel you," Rio said, lighting a cigarette. "Hood don't seem the same, do it?"

"Hell, nah. Man, we had all this shit in the smash, now the crackers done took over."

"Can't really blame the white folks, Prince. Like you said; we had all this shit in the smash. The thing is, we let it slip away like everything else. Look at Harlem. We had a good run wit that and ain't do shit but fuck it up. Black folks act like they ain't used to nothing."

"Li'l nigga, don't you go trying to tell me about the civil rights. I was around in the sixties, remember?"

"Sorry, Prince."

"Yeah, back in the day we had a li'l more pride bout our shit. Now ma fuckas act like they don't care bout nothing. They just content to do without. But not ol' Prince. From the day I left that damn shit hole in North Carolina, I made myself a promise. No matter what I had to do to survive, I'd never go without again."

"I hear you on that," Rio said, sitting on one of the wooden benches. "A nigga trying to get his weight up."

"Bullshit," Prince said,elbowing Li'l J. "You hear this, kid? Rio, you ain't really trying to be on top of ya game. If you were, you would've accepted my offer."

"And a generous offer it was, Prince. But this shit ain't for me."

"What you mean it ain't for you? Nigga, you'd rather be out here getting part-time money, instead of trying to climb the ladder?"

"It ain't like that. I just don't wanna be a hustler."

"News flash for ya, kid. Every successful person in the world is a hustler in one way or another. We all hustle to get where we need to be. Only a fool would sit around and wait on another man to feed him."

"I hear where ya coming from, Prince, but I ain't hard to please. I'd be content to get a decent li'l gig and a crib of my own. As long as I ain't starving and my bills are paid, I'm cool."

All Prince could do was shake his head. He had been trying to get Rio back to working for him full-time ever since he came home from lockup. But every time he propositioned Rio, he would always go into his speech about getting a nine to five. He had been on countless interviews with no luck, but Prince still tried him every chance he got.

Before Rio went away, he was getting heavy in the game. The kid ate, slept, and shit money. That's the main reason Prince had taken a liking to him. Rio would be the first nigga on the block and the last nigga to leave. Everyone thought that when he came home, he would be right back on the grind. But Rio had changed while he was away. He wasn't a coward, but he was much more serious about his life and not wasting it. Some people took this as Rio going soft, but Prince knew better. The kid was just growing up.

"Rio, I'm gonna give you some advice," Prince said. "You're a good kid, but you got low expectations for ya self. All through school you got good grades, even managed to get ya self a li'l degree. But where has it gotten you? Yo ass ain't no closer to a plush pad on Park Ave. You still out here playing corners like the rest of these ma fuckas."

"In due time, Prince."

"Due time, my ass. You better wake up and smell the green. Only a man willing to take his destiny into his own hands is ever gonna make something of himself. Food for thought, hear?"

Prince made more sense than a li'l bit. Rio had indeed finished his education and tried to take his life a step beyond the expected. But so far he didn't have shit. Rio had gone on at least seven interviews in the last few months. All of them turned up dead ends. Ever since he took a fall, people began to treat him as if he had the plague. No one wanted a convicted felon working for them. Sure he had a degree, but it was from a two-year school. Nowadays, that wasn't even good enough. He had high hopes for an interview that he would be going on that week, but part of him expected to be passed over. Becoming a member of the working class was beginning to look dismal for him. So he had to hustle until things changed. If they changed. Rio wanted more from his life, but fast cash was the order of business.

"Anyhow," Prince continued, "let me tell you why I came down so I can get from round you sorry ma fuckas. I'm having a li'l thang tomorrow night, at the Cotton Club. My son Truck is finally getting his stupid ass outta the clink. Let's hope he can stay out this time. It's by invite only and you invited."

"Thanks, Prince," Rio said, shaking his hand. "Is it all right if I bring people with me?"

"Yeah, it's cool. Just don't bring none of them hood niggaz you hang with."

"Why you always gotta rank on my friends, Prince?" Rio asked, frustrated.

"Cause you too smart to be running round with assholes. You better listen to an old-timer, Rio. Cut them hard luck niggaz loose."

"I hear you, Prince."

"Don't just hear me, listen, too. Them niggaz is trouble waiting to happen. Here," Prince said, peeling off five hundred dollars, "take ya li'l girlfriend out, or buy ya self something."

"I can't take this from you, Prince."

"See, that's what I mean by you being stupid. You never turn down free money. Now get up off this hot-ass block. School Boy can finish out ya shift."

"A'ight, Prince. Thanks again."

"No problem, kid. I expect to see you tomorrow night. Bring li'l Tiffany wit you."

"Her name's Trinity. And I just might do that."

"Whatever, Rio. Just have yo ass there." Prince nodded at Li'l J and they made their way back up the block. As Rio watched the duo leave, he couldn't help but think, Prince sure has it together. Rio promised himself that one day he'd be holding his own paper. It was hard eating from the hands of another man, but sometimes you had to do what you had to do.

Copyright 2004 by K'wan Foye

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 73 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 73 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 9, 2008

    A classic in my book!

    Wow- what a novel! K'wan has a great style of writing, he writes in true litary form. K'wan's novel reads like an actual novel, proving that urban literature can be powerful and does exist. A modern day Donald Goines. This book is a classic. The ending is explosive. The New York slang is hip and up to par. The dialogue is realistic. And the setting is painted almost too vividly. Gritty and raw. The scenes play out like a movie. After finishing this book- I thought about it. Now how many books have you read and thought about it after you finished reading it? Get it. This book is way under-rated. This book is a classic. A great book for everyone- whatever your tastes might be.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 14, 2011

    excellent book!!!

    This book with have you hooked from day 1 to the end!!!! i would definetely recommend it

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  • Posted February 9, 2011

    Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!

    K'wan is my dog!!!!

    I loved all of his books

    Street Dreams stayed with me. I still remember it this day.

    Great book.

    This book tore at my heart.
    I loved it .. If you have not read it please do.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2008

    Street Dreams

    You know its hard here in these streets for Rio. Turning to a street pharmacist is the only way to keep money in his pockets and food on the table. Very ambitious and intelligent with a degree behind him, he's tried countless times to find legitimate employment with no luck. Then there is Trinity, every man's dream, the love of Rio's life, his soul mate. Like any other couple they have there disagreements, break ups to make ups. She's had a troubled life. Ever since the death of her mother, she has been taken care of the household like a wife should in every way, if you know what I mean. Being with Rio is her only sense of peace and he has vowed to be her protector until the bitter end. Street Dreams really tells it like it is in the streets. There was never a dull moment. Very detailed and graphic. I've read other works of K'wan and he is a very gifted writer and on point with the pen. Tangerine, 'Reader's Paradise Book Club'

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2008

    The struggle with the hustle.

    The book was an outstanding peace of writting. it demonstartes the stuggle with the hustle as i like to call it. the two main characters are a man named Felon and Trinity. The two are lovers in the middle of there life choices. They both are confused about their futers but are certain that they want to be with eachother. Through it all they go back to eachother for advice and for comfort when facing life problems. Felon is a intellegent man that would love to have a regular corporate job but lives up to his name. He is a felon. Everywhere he seems to go for a job his record stops him from being hired. To get by he is the local hustler but doesnt make it his full time job. When he keeps on getting turned down because of his record he turns to the job were the more felonies you have the better your chances are of succeding, hustling. The druglord of New York named Prince takes him under his wing. Felon lives up to his potential in the drug business, but of course there always has to be a monkey wrench in someones operation in this case its Princes son named Truck. Through the novel Truck and Felon compete for the title of being the best hustler in New York. With Prince looking at retirement they both fight in the battle royale to be the next drug lord. Saddly the novel ends and neither of the two get to enjoy the luxeries of the position. They end up killing eachother and lose everyone they loved or cared about in the process. Through the novel Felon doesnt let his gared down except for one person, Trinity. Trinity is a young black woman that made the mistake of dropping out of school. Her whole problem is passing the G.E.D. so that she can get a decent job and move her younger brother out of her fathers house. At home Trinity struggles with her fathers herassment. It goes so outrages at one point that Felon decides to take matters into his own hands. He didnt mean to kill him but they got into a fight and Felon ended up beating him to death. Felon struggles to tell her but when she finds out there love only becomes stronger as she excepts the fact and realizes that Felon only meant to protect her. Trinity ends up passing the G.E.D. but doesnt get to apply for any jobs. She is mixed with Felons business and ends up bein a hostage in the shoot out that ended them all. The book atracted me because i could relate to the enviroment and problems that are faced in this book. In a way it kind of solved some of my problems and helped me in making choices. Any one who enjoys reading about people in the ' Game ' would enjoy this book and i give it a thumbs up!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book is good from start to finish. I couldnt put it down i recommend this book to any one 12 years old and older

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 6, 2007


    i loved this book but its also sad too i will recommend people to read it

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2007


    it was outstanding book the best young adult book i have read yet!! continue to do the good work and continue letting poeple know about how hard life can really be. i cant wait to read more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 9, 2007


    Tragic. But true. I think anyone reading this book can relate to the story. So many young people are dying out in the streets. Fast money, fast riches, and fast death. When will we open our eyes and see the damage that we are causing? get your read on, learn, and then change. This book gives the reader an excellent look at what not to do.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2007


    One of the best books i have ever read... Liked it so much i picked up every other book he has written.. and they all are GREAT.. but this was deff my fav... MUST BUY!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2007

    OFF THE CHAIN!!!!!!!

    k'wan has done it again with this one. Can't say I'm surprised because he's a ghetto genius.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2007


    This book is great!!!!!!!!!Its not just your average 'hood' book. you'll enjoy. i promise

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2007

    An avid reader of urban fiction

    This book was so good, it had me crying at the end though. I read it twice, it was so hard to put down. K'wan alwayz does his thang.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2006

    I cant believe it made MEEE CRY!!!

    This book is the best book i ever read it will make u cry and u wont be able to put it down until your done reading it.This book made me cry and i never cry.This is a must read book!!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2006

    a very good book

    This book was amazing!!! It's the first book that ever made me cry. It's full of twists and turns that will leave you astonished. GO OUT AND GET THIS BOOK!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2006

    Excellent book- A MUST READ

    This book everyone should read. This book is great from beginning to end (especially the end). Its the type of book that would make you cry and smile.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2006

    this is so sad!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    o my godness !!!!!!!! this book had me in tears i was really crying like a bitch . kwan has done it again . he is my favorite author. he really knows how to draw you in to the story . this book was romantic, and had a lot of drama. but this book is a must read and if you do not shed a tear for this book something is really wrong with you

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2006

    The Best I Ever Read

    If you read Eve This doesnt conpare to his other. You wont be able to put this book down. Kwan really did his thang. I cant wait to read his next book. Keep them coming Kwan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2006


    This book is better than all the rest. I am a fan of urban ficton and this is by FAR the best and most different one I have ever picked up. The characters are so real, so NEW YORK (I'm from BK), I love it. Kwan realy needs to get a movie deal for this one it is that good. I have told my moms, boyfriend and everyone I know about Kwan.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2006


    this is the best book ive read in a long time. it bring love to the hood and it shows just what some people will do to make it to the top

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