Zero Fade

( 2 )


Zero Fade chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia, teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack haircuts, bullies, last year's fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded.

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Zero Fade

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Zero Fade chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia, teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack haircuts, bullies, last year's fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher





"Meet Kevin Phifer. He’s in seventh grade, with a dad who’s been gone for 10 years, a mom who won’t let him get a fade, and a neighborhood bully who won’t leave him alone. It’s 1994 in Richmond, Va., and Kevin’s the hero of Chris L. Terry’s funny, well-observed young adult novel. I loved Zero Fade for its great period detail and its honesty about its main character’s emotions—including his confusion and concern about an uncle who’s coming out to his family."
— Dan Kois, Slate

"Kevin Phifer, 13, a black seventh-grader in 1990s Richmond, Va., and hero of this sparkling debut, belongs in the front ranks of fiction’s hormone-addled, angst-ridden adolescents, from Holden Caulfield to the teenage Harry Potter [...] Original, hilarious, thought-provoking and wicked smart: not to be missed.
Kirkus Reviews

"Zero Fade is a damn fine read with a resounding message that never preaches, but instead talks to you across the table like a friend and ally. Highly recommended. Chris L. Terry is an author to keep an eye on."

"Zero Fade is a "funny and insightful coming of age story, which takes place in the 1990s hip-hop era, [and] is a standout story in children’s literature, in which many more black male protagonists are needed."
Richmond Times Dispatch

"Zero Fade is wise and wise-assed, hilarious and subtle, knowing and searching. We need writers like Chris Terry, unafraid to plumb the complexities and absurdities of race and identity with grace and funk."
— Adam Mansbach, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rage is Back and GO

"Chris Terry is a wise and hilarious writer. He has bestowed Kevin, the hero of Zero Fade, with an especially acute case of teenage angst, and the results are sweet, painful and very recognizable to anyone who has survived seventh grade. This is a wonderful book."
— Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife

"With sharp storytelling sagacity and attention to detail, Mr. Terry masterfully captures the lingo and tackles the issues of growing up hip-hop in the early '90s. He's fired up the Flux Capacitor and brought me back to a childhood of asymmetrical haircuts, terms and viewpoints that have since become taboo and other idiosyncratic stuff that speaks to modern society's invisible men: the black, hip-hop kids of Generation X."
— J-Zone, author of Root for the Villain: Rap, Bulls**t, and a Celebration of Failure

"Reading Chris Terry's Zero Fade offered me a glimpse into a cultural experience that isn't mine, but that I could recognize immediately. Vernacular as world. On the surface, it's just language. But this novel isn't surface. The characters speak in rhythms that reveal emotions not identifiable by just words, but I'll name them nonetheless: humor, sadness, confusion, joy, revelation. It's all here in Terry's first novel, a novel that is practically carbonated, how it sparkles and burns."
— Lindsay Hunter, author of Daddy'sand Don't Kiss Me

"The fictional story, set in Richmond’s North Side in 1994, tells the tale of seventh-grader Kevin Phifer and his trials and tribulations [in a] slyly comical and nuanced take on teenage angst."
Style Weekly

"There is something magical in the way that [Chris L.] Terry captures Kevin’s world. Kevin is at once vulgar and sweetly innocent, and his voice on the page is electric, as flowing and rhythmic as his favorite Biggie Smalls songs [...] Kevin’s voice, though unique and rife with individual problems, is the voice of anyone who has ever been thirteen."
Chicago Literati

"Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry is a personal favorite and one of the best books for younger teens I’ve read in a long time. The novel is written at a breakneck speed [filled with] with hilarious gems, such as, “Tyrell’s crew had been held back so many times that they were bigger than the teachers.”
— Any Cheney, Reaching Reluctant Readers

VOYA - KaaVonia Hinton
Kevin is on the cusp of living the good life. It will be his...once he gets Mama to let him get a decent haircut at a barbershop, gets Tyrell to stop beating him up, and gets Aisha to look beyond his "mushy tushy" and let him take her out on a date. With a little help from Uncle Paul, Kevin gets close to achieving his goals—until he learns Uncle Paul is gay and feels betrayed. Steeped in 1990s pop culture (e.g., Redman and Eddie Murphy's Delirious), sections of the novel shift from Kevin's to Uncle Paul's perspective, but the seventh grader's sections are more compelling. He is realistically drawn, memorable, and funny. This book might spark debate, as Terry does not shy away from language young boys often use when adults are not around. Kevin and his classmates refer to friends and enemies as "niggas," and they call gay men "faggots." There is also a scene that involves grown men fighting teenagers. Kevin does grow and learn to see Uncle Paul as he always has: as a loving family member. Parents, librarians, and teachers are sure to view Zero Fade as an opportunity to talk to youth about stereotypes, humanity, and the power of words. Reviewer: KaaVonia Hinton
VOYA - Tony Johnson
Zero Fade is a really funny book. It is pretty relatable for most teens because the main character is self-conscious, as most teens are. For example, Kevin gets upset when he learns Uncle Paul is gay, mostly because he worries that if people know his uncle is gay, they will think he is, too. Some people may have a problem with the use of the N-word in the book if readers are not used to hearing that word. Reviewer: Tony Johnson, Teen Reviewer
Kirkus Reviews
Kevin Phifer, 13, a black seventh-grader in 1990s Richmond, Va., and hero of this sparkling debut, belongs in the front ranks of fiction's hormone-addled, angst-ridden adolescents, from Holden Caulfield to the teenage Harry Potter. Kevin wants a fade, thinking the stylish haircut will bolster his shaky standing in the cutthroat world of middle school, where he's just one friend away from eating lunch alone. But his mother, a church secretary and solo parent studying for a nursing degree at night, won't even try. Expressing his frustration leads to a week's grounding. Tyrell and his entourage of bullies make Kevin's life miserable at school. In science lab, Aisha, girl of Kevin's dreams, points out his "mushy tushy." Sandbagged by dizzyingly abrupt mood shifts, Kevin hurtles from altruism to craven self-interest, mature self-knowledge to wild fantasy. His anchor in rough seas is Uncle Paul, a quiet, manly museum security guard. Weary of hiding his sexual orientation, Paul's recently come out to family and friends but has yet to tell Kevin, for whom "faggot" is the worst insult there is. Paul's perspective, with its temporal and social context, enriches and deepens the narrative, offering an effective contrast to Kevin's volatile reality, where "now" is all that counts. Original, hilarious, thought-provoking and wicked smart: not to be missed. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780988480438
  • Publisher: Curbside Splendor Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/10/2013
  • Pages: 294
  • Sales rank: 1,311,549
  • Product dimensions: 4.00 (w) x 5.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris L. Terry lives in Chicago where he teaches writing and theatre to juvenile inmates. Growing up in Richmond, VA, he spent his teens and early twenties touring the world in a punk band. He has a Fiction Writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Zero Fade is his first novel. Excerpts have appeared in Chicago Reader, Curbside Splendor, Hair Trigger, and Trilling Magazine. His website is
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 12, 2014

    I wish this book had existed when I was a teen. I love how Chris

    I wish this book had existed when I was a teen. I love how Chris Terry is able to write about hot-button issues like bullying and homosexuality in a way that doesn't feel preachy or 'after-school special-y.' The main character is vivid and compelling and the storyline is really fun. Totally reads up for adults and there is a good deal of hi-hop culture from the 80s and 90s present. Bonus points if you're from Richmond, VA, as the story is set there and the city is like an additional character. 

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2014

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