Thursday, November 4, 2010

"If I Grow Up" by Todd Strasser

Through the fictional characters of DeShawn, his best friend, Terrell, and the gang leaders in If I Grow Up, Todd Strasser gives the reader a vivid picture of the pressures people face living in poverty with gang members ruling the neighborhood in the inner-city.  I really liked this book because it followed DeShawn and Terrell as they grew up in the projects and let me see a world I am totally unfamiliar with; on the other hand, it is disturbing that people in America are actually living like this in some places. 

Although DeShawn and Terrell were best friends, they had different goals.  At age 12, Terrell looked forward to getting into a gang while DeShawn wanted to stay out of it.  DeShawn was generally a kid who just wanted to help out his family, stay alive to see another day, do the right thing and  stay out of trouble.  Had he made some different choices, he may have succeeded.  Strange how things turned out.  You trust the wrong person, and boom—you’re dead.

Throughout the book, the author shares some shocking facts between chapters such as these:

There are three times more black men in jail cells than college dorms.  P. 216

Young, unemployed black men murder one another at nine times the rate of white youths.  In 1965, 24% of black males were born to single mothers.  By 1990, the rate had risen to 64% and by 2005, it was just under 70%.  p.155

If I Grow Up story kept my interest all the way through, right from page 1.  It’s well written and has clean language.  I recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about teenagers, is living in a project or is interested in gangs. 
(Karen's review)

Gerard's review:
If I Grow Up is about a young boy growing up in the projects surrounded by two gangs. The people who he hangs around with and the decisions he makes is the core of this book. I enjoyed it. Kept me turning pages. The book rings true!

Related non-fiction book we also liked: 
Gang Leader For A Day by Sudhir Venkatesh   (non-fiction)                                                         
Can’t Get There From Here by Todd Strasser (fiction story about homeless street kids)

Have you read this one? What did you think of it?


  1. Hi Guys. Wow.....this is new info for me. Thanks for the facts sharing...Have a great day guys!!

    -CJ @ Coffee N Crackers
    Latest Review: HERE

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