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If I Grow Up

4.11  ·  Rating Details ·  1,300 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews

In the Frederick Douglass Project where DeShawn lives, daily life is ruled by drugs and gang violence. Many teenagers drop out of school and join gangs, and every kid knows someone who died. Gunshots ring out on a regular basis.

DeShawn is smart enough to know he should stay in school an
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published February 24th 2009 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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Rebecca McNutt
Nov 08, 2015 Rebecca McNutt rated it it was amazing
DeShawn, a teenager living in the Projects, wants to not just get by, but get out. He wants what a lot of kids in his situation have given up on, and that's a good education, but his family is nearly out of money and the only way to get good money if you're a Projects kid is to sell drugs and join dangerous gangs, two things he knows are wrong.

This book gives readers insight into a dilemma that many kids sadly have to face in reality, having to give up school and safety in order to take care of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2012 Skip rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 21, 2012 Roseline rated it really liked it
IF I GROW UP is by Todd Strasser, who has many awards-wining novels, including BOOT CAMP, CAN’T GET THERE FROM HERE, and GIVE A BOY A GUN. He decided to write IF I GROW UP after visiting several inner city schools and reading about the growing problem of gangs.
This book about a kid named Deshwan, who lives in the Frederick Douglas Project where people shoot each other almost every day, and almost everyone is in a gang. But deshwan is smart enough to know that gang members always end up either in
Evan Bautch
Nov 02, 2010 Evan Bautch rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Karen & Gerard
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 t ...more
May 28, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it
For upper middle and high schoolers. It's about gang life in the projects, family, hopelessness, poverty, and growing up. but it is really about surviving. Strasser did his research to imagine DeShawn's life from from 12 to 28, but I was always aware of the author's voice rather than getting lost in the narrator's telling. There was a didacticism to the story that felt more like the author's project than the narrator reflecting on lessons learned. That said, I do see this book as a powerful book ...more
Angela Bynum
Nov 15, 2016 Angela Bynum rated it liked it
If I grow up was a book that talks about kids growing up in rough parts of a city like Chicago. A family of four living with their grandma, lives where all the gang members work. It is very dangerous when they start to shoot because it's near. As the grandmother protects them, they stay in side the house and are not allowed to leave. As David, one of the four children, asks the go out side because his friends has something for him, he begged his grandma to go until she said yes. He goes out side ...more
Dec 27, 2010 Natalie rated it it was amazing
This is a MUST read. This is a book about a young African American boy living in the projects. Faced with his mothers death, drive bys, a selfish sister, and battling gangs, DeShawn struggles with things kids shouldn't have to even think about. He is thrown in to the gang world for reasons that are out of his control. Falling in love for the first time is a beautiful roller coaster. But when the one you love is the sister of a rival gang member things can get pretty dangerous. DeShawn wants more ...more
Sarah BT
Dec 03, 2010 Sarah BT rated it really liked it
This was a short read and it read very quickly. DeShawn lives in the projects and the novel starts out with him at age 12. He wants to get out and do something with his life, but living in a place where gangs rule, he grows up and soon finds he has no choice. I thought the story was very well done and while it was sad and infuriating and DeShawn often left me annoyed at his choices, I understood why he made them. I also felt the author really did his research and wrote a story that felt real. I ...more
Kevin Sheng
Dec 02, 2014 Kevin Sheng rated it liked it
After reading "If I grow up", what I feel the most is that our current lives are really blessed. People in the book don't really have choices, even they are smart enough to have a better life such as the main character. DeShawn tries different ways to get out of what seems like destiny for every black man in the projects, but his route is always blocked. However the book don't really have a good ending, it is predictable. Because i picked the book randomly, the plot is not what i thought, so it ...more
Nicole Roach
Aug 30, 2015 Nicole Roach rated it it was amazing
We often read stories of people escaping their childhood and creating something of their lives. This book shows that it is very hard to escape your culture and make something different of your life. "Three times more black men live in jail cells than in college dorms." Education equals power and freedom. This would make a great read aloud in a junior high or high school classroom.
Andrew R
this was an awesome book i liked the action that was in the book also i liked that when he had no choice to join he had to take care of his family too.
May 19, 2017 Jeremiah rated it it was amazing
This book was an incredible read and it is about this kid named Deshawn and he lived in a really tough neighborhood in Chicago and the name of this place is called Fredrick Douglas Projects and it was definitely really tough living there. The author of this book is named Todd Strasser. Mike strasser has also made other books related to this book such as Give a Boy a Gun and Fallout.
It starts of as a boy named Darnell getting thrown off of a building from the Douglas Disciples rival gang the Ge
Hser Moo
May 16, 2017 Hser Moo rated it really liked it
IF I GROW UP by Todd Strasser is a realistic fiction Set in New York. This book is about teenagers who live in the hood they were poor no one want to go nearby because is danger is full of gangster. But they only allowed peoples live there if they know them. Kids or teenagers who live in this place call Frederick Douglass project will never have good education or become good person.

DeShawn was the main character lives with his gramma and sister no parent. He the only good kid in Frederick Dougla
May 15, 2017 Corey rated it really liked it
The theme or moral of the book is the grass is greener on the other side. The kids do their best to resist the temptation and abuse of joining a gang. They find that education and their future is more important then drugs and gangs.
Jarod N 3
Mar 21, 2017 Jarod N 3 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because I have never read about the city folk. I'm more of a country dude and this was a nice change of scenery.
Juan Ibarra
Nov 14, 2013 Juan Ibarra rated it it was amazing
*Spoiler Alert*
I know that may not have grown up in the "low class" minority suburban area that we know as the ghetto. But you may have friends or family that do live there. You can just ask them how hard it is to grow up in that kind of area, to survive even. I can say for sure that this is a gritty, urban drama.

In the heart of the Frederick Douglass District, gunshots and violence rings out day in and day out. Everyday, teenagers drop out of school to join the local gang, the Douglass Discipl
Dec 22, 2011 Lily rated it it was amazing
In a place where unexplained murders occur frequently, drugs and alcohol are used by people of all ages, and it's a basic procedure to drop to the floor when you hear gunshots (which is frighteningly often), can anyone feel safe? Not to mention the gang violence, often leading to deliberate murder and the deaths of innocent people. DeShawn wants to believe that there's something better for him, for everyone that lives in the Frederick Douglas Projects, where all of this goes on every day. But he ...more
Devin Gonthier
Nov 23, 2015 Devin Gonthier rated it really liked it
After reading the book “If I Grow Up” by Todd Strasser, I would give the book a 6 out of 10 rating. It is indeed a very good book, but I definitely wouldn’t say it was the best book I have ever read. Yes, it was definitely somewhere up there in the top 10 of mine. A piece of the book that I really like would be when the main character, DeShawn is at gun-point with no defenses. “Her brother pulled a black gun from his waist and pointed it at me. MY heart was pumping so hard that I began to feel l ...more
Nov 08, 2015 Funne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: regal
Der junge Kalon wächst in einem Ghetto auf. Drogen, Gewalt und nächtliche Schüsse sind Alltag. Das Leben wird durch die Gangs der Gegend kontrolliert – zwei Banden, die seit Jahren verfeindet sind. Fast täglich fallen diesem Krieg Gangmitglieder zum Opfer. Die Regierung interessiert das schon lange nicht mehr – das Ghetto ist ein Ort der Vergessenen.
Kalon möchte mit all dem nichts zu tun haben. Er möchte zur Schule gehen und einfach nur ein friedliches Leben führen. Doch so sehr er es auch will

In the book If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser is a very touching book that can catch anyone's full attention, the story begins with the main character Deshawn; who lives in the Frederick Douglass Projects In New York. Deshawn lives with his grandmother and older sister who are part of the lower class just like the majority of families living there, they live in a small little apartment. Despite the fact of Deshawn being so young he is put through difficult situations like choosing to stay in school
Such a good, powerful book. But so sad! (view spoiler) But while I do think that this is a well written and moving story, I kind of wonder about Strasser's "teacher-y" tone sometimes. I'm actually glad that he includes a preface wi ...more
Apr 10, 2010 Erika rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If I Grow Up chronicles the teenage years of DeShawn, a young boy living with his grandmother and older sister in the Frederick Douglas projects. I was worried as I began reading that this book would suffer from alienating stereotyping and overdone caricatures. The struggle of inner-city children and life in general is nothing I haven’t heard or seen before, albeit nothing to be taken lightly--If I Grow Up proved no different. The book didn’t tell me anything new, but that’s just my point. It di ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Mar 04, 2009 Jennifer Wardrip rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

When you live in the projects and are faced daily with gang violence, drive-by shootings, teen pregnancy, and poverty, the chance of growing up and living a decent life as an adult dwindle with each passing year. Todd Strasser takes readers into the life of one teen living in just such a world.

DeShawn lives with his grandmother and his sister. His grandmother cleans for a living, but even though she's not old by the suburbs' standa
I thought this book was really powerful. I've read my share of books about gangs and situations like this, but I thought that Todd Strasser would be able to pull it off in an entirely new way. And he did.

I mean--the whole time as I was reading this book, I was rooting for DeShawn. I wanted so badly for this, somehow, to become a happy ending. And in a way, it did. But this book also left me in rage mode for a while, because it completely stomped on my expectations in a really bittersweet way.

Erick Lovo
May 29, 2013 Erick Lovo rated it liked it
In “If I Grow Up”, Todd Strasser tells about a young boy living with his grandma and his older sister in the Frederick Douglas projects. Todd Strasser usually writes his books largely out of his own experience or remembered feelings, and always with his readers in mind. Besides “If I Grow Up”, Todd Strasser has written many books and won a couple of awards, but for this book specifically he’s won the 2011 Missouri Gateway Readers Award, 2011 North Carolina School Library Media Association Young ...more
2Lucas T
Oct 26, 2015 2Lucas T rated it it was amazing
Trey Lucas
Waldorf – Hour 2
ELA 11
20 October 2015
If I Grow Up
Todd Strasser conveys perseverance and toughness throughout the book by showing us that Deshawn’s family and his expanding family, live in poverty with little to no money so that Deshawn has to persevere throughout the tough times and find a way to make money for his family. When the Gang leader Marcus asks Deshawn this, “I need someone like you on my team, and you’ve proven to be street smart. So are you in or out for tomorrow’s drive
Justin Evans
Oct 30, 2013 Justin Evans rated it it was amazing
Your a young, innocent boy living in the projects, with your elderly grandmother and older sister. You barely have a place to lay your head, every day you risk your life just by going outside, and the only place you feel comfortable at is school. But who has time to think about school when your having hard times at home. You barely eat each night and you start feeding off scrubs that you find in the trash can. Who do you turn to? WHAT do you turn to?
Young Deshawn try so hard to stay in school
Mar 19, 2014 Reina rated it it was amazing
This is a book about a young African American boy living in the projects. Faced with his mothers death, drive bys, a selfish sister, and battling gangs, DeShawn struggles with things kids shouldn't have to even think about. He is thrown in to the gang world for reasons that are out of his control. Falling in love for the first time is a beautiful roller coaster. But when the one you love is the sister of a rival gang member things can get pretty dangerous. DeShawn wants more for himself. He know ...more
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Todd Strasser is an American author of more than 130 young-adult and middle grade novels and novelizations, some written under the pen names Morton Rue and T.S.Rue

Todd was born in New York City. When he was young his parents moved to Roslyn Heights, New York (Long Island). Todd went to the I.U. Willets Elementary school and then attended the Wheatley School for junior high and high school. His bes
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