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High school freshman Martine (Teenie for short) is a good student, with a bright future ahead of her. She's desperate to be accepted into a prestigious study abroad program in Spain so that she can see what life is like beyond the streets of Brooklyn. She wouldn't mind escaping from her strict (though lovable) parents for awhile either. But when the captain of the basketball team starts to pay attention to her after she's pined away for him for months and Cherise, her best friend, meets a guy online, Teenie's ...

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High school freshman Martine (Teenie for short) is a good student, with a bright future ahead of her. She's desperate to be accepted into a prestigious study abroad program in Spain so that she can see what life is like beyond the streets of Brooklyn. She wouldn't mind escaping from her strict (though lovable) parents for awhile either. But when the captain of the basketball team starts to pay attention to her after she's pined away for him for months and Cherise, her best friend, meets a guy online, Teenie's mind is on anything but her schoolwork. Teenie's longtime crush isn't what he seemed to be, nor is her best friend's online love. Can Teenie get her act together in time to save her friendship with Cherise, save her grade point average so that she can study in Spain, and save herself from a potentially dangerous relationship?

Christopher Grant makes a stunning literary debut with this warmly told story about friends, family, and finding oneself.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Teenie is rounded with compelling faults, virtues, and smarts. Smooth writing and vivid descriptions of feelings mark this story as easy to booktalk and deserving of attention."

"Utterly believable in its contemporary detail. . . . A good demonstration that girls with goals can walk away empowered."
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Children's Literature - Claudia Mills
High school freshman Martine (Teenie) is diminutive in size but not in smarts. She's smart enough to be a top student at Brooklyn Technical High school and a serious contender to earn a scholarship for a prestigious study-abroad program in Spain. She's smart enough to know that something's wrong when her best friend, Cherise, makes plans to meet up at Penn Station with an older sugar daddy whom she met online. And she's smart enough to alert her own fiercely (but appropriately) protective father to Cerise's danger. But she's not smart enough to see that handsome basketball player Greg Millons, who is flattering her with his flirty text messages, poses dangers to her as well, and now Cherise, who can't forgive Teenie for the humiliating intervention into her own risky romance, is not available to share her savvy street-smarts to save her book-smart friend. Grant's debut novel showcases a gift for creating a believable first-person African-American female voice (or, more accurately, mixed West-African, Grenadan, Irish, Carib Indian, Portuguese, and Syrian female voice). A few plot details don't ring quite true: it's a bit too convenient that Greg happens to work in the study-abroad office and so can either help or hinder Teenie in her scholarship dreams. But overall Teenie's life at home and school are richly textured to create a convincing story of the ways in which the bonds of family and friendship, even when painfully threatened, can endure. Reviewer: Claudia Mills, Ph.D.
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—"The only constant in life is change. The sooner you understand that, the easier it will be for you to cope with hard times, learn from them and grow." For Teenie, this sage advice from her mother sets the tone for this coming-of-age story set in Brooklyn. Teenie is a small girl, only 100 pounds, but with big dreams. She hopes to earn a scholarship to study in Spain for a year, a dream that sets her apart from her friends, and even from her Barbadian parents, who love and care for her, but with their conservative outlook on life, fear letting her go. After a tumultuous year filled with potentially dangerous relationships, including a star athlete trying to force her into oral sex and a best friend who is accepting hundreds of dollars from an online "friend," Teenie realizes that change, although frightening, can also be a good thing when you have confidence in your choices and the support of family and friends. Realistic descriptions of teenage life and appealing characters make for an enjoyable reading experience.—Margaret Auguste, Franklin Middle School, Somerset, NJ
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780375854903
  • Publisher: Random House Children's Books
  • Publication date: 1/10/2012
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 427,534
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

CHRISTOPHER GRANT makes his debut with Teenie. Currently a professional equities trader, he lives in Harlem, New York, and spends his free time traveling the world with his wife.

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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

"It's better to be a good listener than a good talker, because the good listener can remember what was said." As hard as it is for me to admit that my father says anything that makes sense, when I apply that little ditty to conversations with my best friend, Cherise, he hits the nail right on the head. Whenever we do something that doesn't pertain to her, like standing in front of the study abroad office, she gets really antsy. Most times it's a lot of eye-rolling and an occasional huff, but today she doesn't last more than ten seconds before she says, "So why are we standing here again? For that nerd thing you're trying to get into?"

I look at her sideways and grumble, "Yes, for YSSAP."

"What 'sap'?"

Cherise has been my best friend since the third grade, and over the past six and a half years, this type of conversation has played itself out time and time again. I guess that's what I get for doing ninety-five percent of the listening. "YSSAP, Young Scholars Study Abroad Program."

"Sounds like loads of fun," she sighs.

"Don't be a hater because you can't get in. You wish you could go to Spain for free."

"Whatever. Like I'd want to be in Spain with a bunch of shribs."

"I'm not a shrib"—her latest term for loser.

"If you say so . . . So how long do you plan on standing here?"

"I guess until someone comes out of the office."

Apparently that's all she needed to hear. She starts tapping on the door, waiting about three seconds before knocking harder. "There ain't nobody in there, Teenie. Let's go."

Teenie, that's what my girls call me. I'm five feet and one-quarter inch, one hundred and one pounds, with all my books in my book bag and a pair of waterlogged Timberlands on. "But they're supposed to put the acceptance list up."

"Do you see anyone coming to the door?" She says this as we've put about twenty feet between the office and ourselves.

I turn and look back, but don't see anyone. "No."

"That's what I thought. If you want to get anywhere in this world, you gotta be aggressive! Be, Be aggressive!"

"What the hell was that?"

"It's one of the cheers that I have to do for tryouts, which is why I don't want to waste time standing in front of that door with you when I should be practicing."

"What time do the cheerleading tryouts start?"

"In twenty minutes."

"Oh. Sorry." I'm not really into the cheerleading thing, but Cherise definitely has the look: long hair, light skin, and a big butt, an apple bottom. She has all the makings of a video vixen.

"I don't know why you're so scared to try out for the squad."

"I'm not scared." I am scared, but she doesn't need to know that. "I told you like fifty times I'm going to get my braces off."

"You're getting your braces off today?"

Make that ninety-six percent of the listening.

Since I've been home, I've been standing in the mirror, staring at my teeth. It took the dentist an hour and a half to take my braces off, but part of me wants to go back to his office and tell him to put them right back on. My teeth are gigantic, looking like some supersized Chiclets. They don't taste like them, though, since I've been rubbing my tongue across them for the better part of an hour.

I hate being wound up like this. These are the times that I need Cherise the most, but as usual, when I'm desperate for help, she's never around. It's not every day that a girl gets her braces taken off, and after three years of being called everything from "Tin Grin" to "Metal Mouth," the least she could do is be online when she's supposed to be. Cherise was supposed to log on to Instant Messenger forty-five minutes ago. Honestly, she should know better.

I'll be pissed if she's on the phone talking to one of those meatheads from the football team or has me blocked so I won't see if she's online. There are ways around that.

Appletini: crystal u there? Bottle of Crys: yup, sup? Appletini: nuthin' much. u c cherise online? Bottle of Crys: Nope Appletini: k thanx. ttyl

Guess she really isn't online, so I have to sit here and kill time. There are about twenty other windows flashing. I don't feel like chatting to any of my cousins in Barbados. I have one of those families with like thirty-something grandchildren.

My mother thinks lack of education and birth-control methods are the reasons my father's parents had so many kids. She may have a point, but I kind of agree with my dad's take on the situation. He says, "It ain't got a ting to do wit birff control. Dem people [his parents] was so cheap, dey ain' want to pay nobody to tend dee land. So dey make dee servants."

My paternal grandparents had fourteen children. My father was the first boy, after four girls. He has told many stories about shucking sugarcane and how he has the calluses on his hands to prove it. He embellishes, claiming he had to walk ten miles to and from school each day, uphill in both directions. I know he worked hard when he was growing up, busting his hump so we would have a better life than he did. Despite his family being well off, nothing came easy for him. I think he works too hard, but that's all he knows.

Now I definitely don't feel like chatting to my cousins in Barbados. They'll want to know when I'm coming down and then ask me to bring them some clothes. They never give me any money to pay for stuff, always asking for designer T-shirts and things like that, like I'm some kind of millionaire.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 14, 2012

    Awesome Read

    Teenie is your typical teenager who wants to fits in. However, her goals and academic success often set her apart from others. Yet, she still yearns for a bit of attention here and there. Teenie gets her braces taken off and with the encouragement of her best friend, Cherise, gains some new-found confidence. She is further encouraged by the attentions of senior basketball star, Greg Millons. While some things seem to be looking up, Teenie learns that life is not quite simple as she tries to reach academic goals and be a good friend to Cherise. She tries to get into a competitive scholarship program that would allow her to study abroad in Spain. Teenie's naivete soon gets her into trouble and the right thing to do no longer seems so clear especially when you are a freshmen in high school.

    I absolutely loved this book! Teenie's voice is so clear and strong. I found myself completely invested in her life and struggles. Even more fun, Teenie was often witty and I found myself laughing out loud for most of the book. The relationship between Teenie is Cherise is also refreshing. While not perfect, it is incredibly realistic. I felt like the dialogue was something I could have had with my best friend in high school. It was so easy to disappear into the story because I felt like I was there.

    The book deals with important issues such as bullying, the dangers of the internet, sexuality, and rape. However, Mr. Grant balances the issues so well that it isn't a sad read, but a moving one. The book is both character and plot driven and I read it in one sitting.

    It reminds me a bit of Speak by Laurie Halse Alderson but the touches of culture (Teenie's parents are West Indian) and the friendship between Teenie and Cherise sets it apart.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2012


    This book is such a must read, waiting fir the rest!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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