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Street Love

Street Love

4.2 17
by Walter Dean Myers

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Your first love is totally wrong for you.
Do you follow your heart?
Or do you run away?


What am I doing? He’ll take one quick look
And wish he was anywhere else but here
I’m already ashamed of what I think
He will think of me, of the life I lead


Yes, she is the fruit that will
Sustain me and yes, she


Your first love is totally wrong for you.
Do you follow your heart?
Or do you run away?


What am I doing? He’ll take one quick look
And wish he was anywhere else but here
I’m already ashamed of what I think
He will think of me, of the life I lead


Yes, she is the fruit that will
Sustain me and yes, she brings
A rain that I know can chill
But it is a rain so sweet and sings
A song my soul insists
That I follow, if I would exist
As more than I have ever, ever been
If my mother calls it evil, then I embrace the sin

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Myers's (Monster) compellingly readable novel in verse unfolds through an array of characters, all linked by Damien Battle and Junice Ambers who both live in Harlem but come from very different worlds. Damien has been accepted to Brown University; Junice's mother has been sentenced to 25 years for possession and drug dealing. A pair of early rap poems set up a rivalry between Damien and Sledge (whose "crew... wore their colors"), and also Damien's fascination with a "beauty" who "walks darkly, as if her mind weighs down/ Her steps," later revealed to be Junice. Myers crafts some memorable moments here, as when Junice describes her mother ("She gave freely/ To those in need, or to those who, like/ Her, were broken, and needed a fix") or when Miss Ruby, Junice's grandmother, expresses grief for her convicted daughter in a blues poem ("Yeah, it's hard, baby/ It's hard right down to the bone/ I said Oh, it's hard baby/ It's hard right down to the very bone/ It's hard when you're a woman/ And you find yourself all alone") and the banter between Damien and a buddy. Yet some readers may wish for a deeper understanding of what draws Damien to Junice, and why he risks his own family's upheaval and his future at Brown for this new romance. Though both Damien and Junice come off as sympathetic characters, their attraction to each other remains a mystery. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
VOYA - Kathy Starks
Myers ventures into the popular style of novels written in verse with his latest offering. With its dazzling, graffiti-esque cover and rap-like rhythms, the novel transforms the Romeo and Juliet story into an episode from the here and now. Damien is The Hero, "wearing his seventeen years easily around broad shoulders." A chance encounter with Junice, the troubled Beauty, sends his life in a new direction, much to the dismay of his ambitious mother, who expects great things of him, including advanced degrees and marriage to Roxanne. Junice has little energy to cultivate a new relationship with Damien, despite her attraction to his sweet smile and gentle nature. She must care for her younger sister and elderly grandmother when her mother is sent to prison for possession and distribution of drugs. The novel's format allows the reader to peer directly into the thoughts and feelings of the main characters, as in "Junice and Melissa" when Junice says, "I have to open my sister's mouth / And fill it with thoughts as hard / As stones so she can practice her lines / She needs to speak clearly / As she lies." The action is set using poem titles such as "Junice Ambers looking From the Window of the Bus" and "Damien Standing on the Platform, waiting for the Uptown 2." Myers's experiment with the verse form may surprise some, but hip-hop fans, readers of poetry, and hopeless romantics will respond to the emotional vibrancy of this powerful work.
Children's Literature - Kathleen Isaacs
College-bound 17-year-old Damien Battle is a Harlem success story in the making, but when he connects with streetwise Junice Ambers, he embraces a whole new world. In a varied series of carefully crafted poems, free verse, and rap in different voices, a master writer brings freshness to an old story. Will their love be strong enough to withstand the obstacles set up by their family and class differences as well as the decisions of the New York family court? Myers is wise enough to leave that question unanswered, focusing on the emotional dance as they slowly come together. The gritty city background is clear but not obtrusive; the contrast between Damien's dreams of success and his rival Sledge's embrace of hate is presented early on, as is the contrast between his successful family and the dissolution of Junice's when her mother is sentenced to 35 years in jail for drug-dealing. The form of the narrative allows readers to get inside the head of both participants and onlookers. For the adult reader, like Damien's parents, the tragic waste of his promise is akin to Romeo's death; for teens, the romance of this accessible love story will probably be the attraction.
To quote the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2006: Myers employs the novel-in-free-verse format to tell a wrenching but ultimately hopeful story of teenage love set in Harlem. Damien, age 17, already admitted to Brown University, is attracted to 16-year-old Junice, whose mother has just been sent to prison for 25 years for drug possession and distribution. Wrestling with anger and grief, Junice is determined to protect her younger sister Melissa and not be taken under the wing of the Department of Family Services. She fights her attraction to Damien at first; she's concerned her troubles will overwhelm him. Damien, meanwhile, is in a "manhood jam" with Sledge, a classmate who taunts him and says he's slept with Junice, and they get into a fight. Love conquers all in the end, when Junice and Melissa head off to Memphis to live with a distant relative and Damien runs off to go with them. Told from different viewpoints--not just those of Damien and Junice, but also their family members, friends, and a social worker--this deeply felt, poignant story is told in deft strokes, with memorable language and some rap cadences. Both male and female YAs will be able to relate to it, and the tale's brevity and evocation of strong emotions will give it appeal to reluctant readers as well. Another winner from the acclaimed author of Autobiography of My Dead Brother, Monster, and many other YA titles. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Paula Rohrlick (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-The swift flow of these short poems carries readers along in thoughts, conversations, and scenes as Damien and Junice's romance begins. He is a high achiever who has been accepted to Brown University and is expected to go far. Junice has just lost her mother to prison and is trying to keep her younger sister and her grandmother together as a family. Damien and Junice question who they are and who they will become. Hip-hop-style phrases feel like Shakespeare telling of these African-American teens in Harlem, struggling to keep it together. Intellect meets Street as true love conquers all. This is a quick and satisfying read, simple and timeless.-Corinda J. Humphrey, Los Angeles Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Adult and young-adult aficionados of Myers's work will find this new offering revisits issues close to the author's heart: place (Harlem with all its love and squalor), race and the court system (you've got trouble if you're black and poor and in front of a judge), values for boys of color (street crime or achievement) and love of the community. This verse novel, in which entire poems dazzle readers with rhyme and rhythm and voice, finds Damien, a straight-A student, headed for Brown University. But he falls in love with Junice, a girl whose mother has just been incarcerated for selling drugs, and his direction could change. Readers enjoy multiple perspectives on this romance and the decision Damien makes. A cliffhanger conclusion might give some diehard fans the need to reflect and accept the unexpected. This quasi-Romeo and Juliet will easily find its place alongside Sharon Mills Draper's Romiette and Julio (1999), Myers's short story, "Kitty and Mack: a Love Story," West Side Story and of course, the Shakespearean play itself. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.12(h) x 0.32(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Street Love

By Walter Myers

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006 Walter Myers
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060280794


Autumn in Harlem.
Fume-choked leaves, already
Yellowed, crack in the late September
Breeze. Weeds, city tough, city brittle,
Push defiantly along the concrete edges
Of Malcolm X Boulevard. On 137th Street
A toothless sidewalk vendor neatly stacks
His dark knit caps beside the plastic cell
Phone covers. Shadows indistinct in August heat
Now deepen and grow long across
The wide streets. Homeless men sniff the air and
Know that somewhere the Hawk stirs.
Harlem is not an easy place
To grow old, and so the young
Are everywhere,
Pouring from the buses, city dancing
To the rhythms of the street,
City dancing to the frantic spin of life
In the fast lane.


Excerpted from Street Love by Walter Myers Copyright © 2006 by Walter Myers. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Walter Dean Myers was the New York Times bestselling author of Monster, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award; a former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature; and an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree. Myers received every single major award in the field of children's literature. He was the author of two Newbery Honor Books and six Coretta Scott King Awardees. He was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King–Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Walter Dean Myers has created a captivating tale of new love on the tough streets of New York City. Damien is a smart young man who is going places. He has already been accepted into Brown University and looks toward the future. His parents have sacrificed in order to provide him with a stable, loving, and supportive environment. His mother is diligent when it comes to his life. She doesn't want to him to fall prey to manipulating girls looking for a way out of their meaningless and disappointing lives.

Junice is a tall, beautiful girl with a lot on her plate. Her mother has just been sent to prison for twenty-five years for drug possession and now lives with her forgetful grandmother and younger sister. The responsibility of keeping everyone together falls on Junice. The Department of Human Services has reviewed their situation and found that the grandmother isn't well enough to care for the girls and plans to send them into the system--saying they'll try to keep Junice and her sister, Melissa, together, but that they can't promise anything.

When Damien sees Junice walking down the street one day he becomes entranced. Feelings swell in his chest and he knows he has changed. He is quickly pulled into the chaos that is Junice's life and wants to do whatever he can to help her. Against the wishes of his parents, he continues a relationship with her that takes him down a road -- quite literally -- that he would never have taken if Junice hadn't come into his life.

Walter Dean Myers' use of a hip-hop style combined with the short poems that tie this story together is addictive. The multi-voiced narration gives the reader the perspectives of all of the characters that are involved in this heartbreaking tale. Once you start reading, you'll want to keep going until you find out how Junice and Damien's story ends -- or, we hope, at least the first chapter of a longer story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
walter dean myers is a great author.I enjoyed this book very much. This book was about a girl and boy, junice and damian. they fall in love and struggle through many problems. junice's mother goes to jail for 25 years for selling drugs. junice and damian want to leave their lives in ny to live somewhere else but they can't leave everything else behind.
Alexis Parker More than 1 year ago
Seems like a very interesting book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Walter Dean Myers book ¿Street Love¿. It is about two lovers that want to leave their lives in New York City. Junice and Damian are the main characters in the story. They fall in love while dealing with a lot of problems. Junice tries to live life even when all the pressure is on her with her mother going to prison for twenty-five years for selling drugs. Damian is trying to stay out of trouble until he goes to college. He got accepted to Brown university. Junice is a sixteen year old girl that is trying to move on with her life while her mother is in prison. She has to take care of her little sister Melissa and her grandmother. She works hard in school and is a smart girl. Social Services knows about their problems and knows that their grandmother is too sick to take care of them so Junice is trying to keep her and her sister together. Damian is a seventeen year old basketball player that also does well in school and want to have a great life. Damian meets Junice at school. They start a relationship. They fall in love, share their hard times and they both want the same things to leave the streets of Harlem New York. Damian wants to leave and go to school and Junice wants to get out with her sister so they won¿t get separated. This book told the good and bad of a young relationship that lasted. I didn¿t want to put this book down. I recommend this book to all readers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well I have over 1400 books in my nook and yet I haven't came across this author before. But I must say that by me reading the comments I'm going to go on ahead and pick it up.. I hope that its worth it.. happy reading Nook Lovers. Devotion143
TEST NOOKUSER More than 1 year ago
this seems as though it could be a good bok books a million needs to get some in stock!!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is the first book I have read by Walter Dean Myers and I am glad I picked it up. Very poetic words and sad situations make this book an interesting, engrossing read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
well i love walter dean myers but this book was kind of confusing...it just shows how a boy and girl fall in love....it was also written in a poem kind of way i dont know this wasnt really one of my favorites
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Ashley Bennett More than 1 year ago
it is a good book and gooooooioooooioiooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooddddddddd 4444444444 iuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuiiuuuuuuuuiiiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuiiiiiiuuuuuiiiuiuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu