Aaron's Reviews > Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty

Yummy by G. Neri
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's review
Jan 14, 2011

it was amazing

This graphic novel presents the real-life story of a young man who was caught up in the gangs of Chicago's South Side. The events took place in the Roseland neighborhood of the Windy City in 1994. Eleven-year-old Robert Sandifer, or Yummy to his friends, was doing everything he could to make his name in the Black Disciples Nation. The included shoplifting, stealing cars, and trying to master the use of a gun. The struggles with that final skill is what would lead to his biggest problem.

In the middle of a gang shooting that involved Yummy, one of his stray bullets hi Shavon Dean, a 14-year-old girl who lived only a block over from him. She died. Yummy ends up on the run from the police. At first, his fellow gang members did what they could to help, but soon they find doing so is too much trouble, and they also target him, but the result is going to be a lot more severe than jail time.

The story is told from the perspective of Roger, a fellow 11-year old from Yummy's neighborhood. Unlike most of the other people in the story, Roger is not real, but using him allows the reader to get a sense of what it is like to live among the gangs. Roger's older brother is in Yummy's gang, and he grew up near both Yummy and Shavon. He is right in the middle of a community that is filled with violence and love. In away, that odd balance is evident even in Yummy, who still had a well-loved teddy bear even has his life was being overrun by his life of crime.

The setting seems perfectly captured by the realistic black and white drawings of Randy DuBurke, who not only presents what is happening, but also makes great use of shadow and light. This adds an amazing depth to the image that adds realism while also being symbolic.

In the end, like the reader, Roger is left with the ultimate question ... Why? Why do things like this happen.

This was an amazingly powerful read. It provides a glimpse into the gang lifestyle that doesn't make excuses for the horrible actions that are involved, but it does explain how perfectly good kids can get caught up in such a system. The reader is not spared from the violence even as it is not graphically "in your face." Yummy's tale is tragic on so many levels, but it is also one that highlights that the effects of what has happened is not only his. The whole neighborhood is shattered.

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