Melissa 's Reviews > If I Grow Up

If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
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Aug 16, 11

bookshelves: read-in-2011, teen-realistic-fiction, with-reviews
Read on August 15, 2011, read count: 1

Growing up in the projects leaves a person with very few options. DeShawn, an intelligent young man knows this very well as he watches the young people around him join gangs, drop out of school, and fall between the cracks of society. The educational system fails them, and society fails them, leaving boys like DeShawn struggling to make ends meet in a world that doesn’t care if he grows up.


There is no doubting Strasser’s talent for getting a reader into the lives and minds of the characters. Strasser took a young man whose intelligence and street smarts attract the reader and shows how he develops over a period of several years. Looking closely at how a smart young man can become a gang member.

I’ll admit, this isn’t my usual type of book. It isn’t one that I would have willingly picked up on my own, but it is one that I am glad I read because it is remarkable. The characterizations are beautifully done. Gang members, who in other hands would have been superficial stereotypes, are wonderfully developed into people you can believe exist. The pacing is perfect. I literally flew through this novel in on sitting—rare for me because I am such a slow reader. Strasser hooks you with the gunshots at the beginning and propels you to the end at breakneck pace. You won’t believe where this novel will take you.

Overall this was a remarkable piece of fiction. Not a book I would have picked up on my own, but one that I am glad to have read. It is a fast, interesting read, with superb characters and remarkable writing.

Cautions for sensitive readers: Violence, drugs, sexual references, I don’t recall any explicit language, and language in the quotes at the beginning of the chapters was edited out.
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