I am reaching my limit of books with African-American characters who live in bad neighborhoods and have to do desperate things or make horrible choices in order to try to get out of the bad neighborhood. I work with a lot of minority kids and I know they want to see themselves in books and it is still a struggle just in general to find enough books with diverse characters in them, but I have to think that if I were a black teen, I'd also want to see some books with black teens who are having stories other than the one about escaping the ghetto. There is my weary rant about African-American characters and the situation so many of them find themselves in. So keep my weariness in mind as I say that I was not too moved by this book that many others have loved. On the other hand, I didn't especially dislike it, either. So... a couple of things I liked:
- How loyal Nasir is to his cousin even though Wallace is in a bad situation of his own making and is doing nothing to make it better. But Nas feels that need to help family.
- Bunny and Nasir both make moves to make up because their friendship matters to each of them.
- The book is well-written and highly accessible for teens.
- Both boys' dads have jobs that give back to the community.
A couple of things I didn't like as much:
- I never got too invested in either main character.
- The basketball games and their play-by-plays. But that's only because sports are not my thing so I can't follow those descriptions. I've had that problem in many other sports books and I basically just skip those sections to get to whether the team won or lost and it doesn't seem to take away from the story for me.
- As mentioned, the setting.