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Show and Prove

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  34 reviews
A poignant coming-of-age story about two boys finding their way in the South Bronx in the mid-1980s.

The summer of 1983 was the summer hip-hop proved its staying power. The South Bronx is steeped in Reaganomics, war in the Middle East, and the twin epidemics of crack and AIDS, but Raymond “Smiles” King and Guillermo “Nike” Vega have more immediate concerns.

Smiles was sup
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published July 14th 2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
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Average rating 3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  98 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Rich in Color
Feb 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historical
Review copy: Purchased

Earlier this year Lyn Miller-Lachmann recommended Show and Prove. She spoke so highly of the book, I knew it was a must read. It did not disappoint.

Show and Prove allows readers to experience a summer in The South Bronx through the eyes of two young men learning about who they are and what matters most to them. The voices and personalities are distinct and Quintero’s characters have depth.

Smiles has that nickname because he is generally upbeat. He’s an idea man. Over the ye
Ms. Yingling
Interesting setting, but more young adult in pacing and introspective quality. Don't think this will work in my middle school library. ...more
Jake Bedard
Apr 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Show and Prove is a book written from the perspectives of two main characters growing up in the South Bronx during the 1980s. Smiles is a teen who faces a conflict with a summer camp counselor named Cookie Camacho, and Nike is another teen who wants to win a break-dancing competition and that likes a new camp counselor named Sara. Since Smiles earned a scholarship to a new private school, these two friends had started to drift apart. With war in the middle east, as well as the ongoing crack and ...more
Jan 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely loved this book. It's not my normal jam, beyond being own voices, and I expected to be out of my depth. There are layers here. My baseball geek partner was like, wait, that game they're at is important. A Google later and there's another layer. I can imagine there's a ton more I missed! You dont know what you dont know. Regardless, you'll be rooting for Smiles, Nike, Cookie, and Sara as you follow their last year as summer camp counselors in 1983. There aren't any punches pulled, an ...more
Mar 12, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very educational book for me, as a 90s/00s child, because there was so much rap/hip hop/break dancing culture involved. I really loved the diversity and pace. The only things that held me back from giving it 5 stars were how similar the two characters' voices were and how unresolved some things felt. ...more
Nov 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not sure if there was particular significance to the fact that this book was set in the early 80's, but I kind of liked that as the setting.

It definitely had a young adult feel and high school certainly contributed to that, but overall it was sweet and enjoyable.

F picked this off the shelf when the I couldn't find the book I wanted. He did as well as I would have.
Pete Fanning
May 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was expecting a book about the Bronx in the early eighties. Breakdancing, hip hop, trends and nostalgia. And I got that, but this book is so much more! I loved following Smiles and Nike along their journeys, Sara's heartbreaking story, the dynamics of the neighborhood and all the references that made me well, smile. So glad I picked this up! ...more
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
I admit to skimming because I was in a scattered political mindset and the chapters felt long. But! My own readership is not as relevant as the opportunity and access this gem provides to other readers.
Lulu (the library leopard)
3.5 stars. I liked it but sometimes the narrators sounded too similar (which can happen first dual books in first person a lot, I guess.) It did help fill the void The Get Down left and I really liked the final scene with Vanessa at the end.
Emily S.W.
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book surprised me. Not gonna lie it took a bit of adjusting to get used to the language and the setting, but after that you were laid bare to all the things it had to say about the world. It was empathetic and very fast to dish out hard realities. It was just right.
Jun 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-of-2018
I enjoyed this book. It is where I grew up and also reminded me of the recent news with the teenager Junior.
Apr 23, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Slang was overdone, but the story was genuine. The characters felt real. The author did well to capture the world through adolescent eyes.
Nov 17, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been on the look-out for good YA books with people of color protagonists and authors, especially ones that deal well with the complexities of race and poverty and language and family like this one does. Recommend. ...more
The South Bronx in 1983 is not the safest place to be in the summer, and as changes occur in the wider world around them, two friends find satisfaction in their jobs and their future ambitions. I liked how the author deftly threaded pieces of popular culture and politics into this very personal story about Raymond (Smiles) King and Guillermo (Nike) Vega. Smiles attends a challenging prep school, and as he is drawn to a community activist group, he questions whether he really belongs there. He al ...more
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 13-16 year old
Recommended to Beverly by: we need diverse books/
How quickly we forget significant events that did not directly impact our lives. 1980's South Bronx. Unless you were there, you probably don't remember much from this transformative era. Run DMC, break dancing, Reaganomics, the AIDS crisis, and the introduction of crack are all events that changed life for Guillermo, Raymond, Sara, and Cookie. Yet their teen angst is universal. Told from the points of view of Guillermo and Raymond, this tight-knit group of friends worries about their families, p ...more
Diane Ferbrache
Smiles and Nike are friends from the block. They are spending the summer trading rhymes and acting as counselors at day camp. In alternating chapters they share their stories of old friendships and new alliances, break-ups and new love.
Set in 1983, this summer story is filled with 80s music, TV, and movie references. Although reviews were universally positive, I couldn’t finish it. The pop culture references were distracting, the large number of characters, over reliance on slang and Spanish w
Set in the Bronx of the 1980s at the height of hip-hop and b-boys, Smiles and Nike are teenage boys just trying to survive and get by in the 'hood where crime and crackheads are prevalent. There's not a strong plot; the boys deal with family issues, girl trouble, their changing friendship, dodging the local thugs, and finding their places in the world. The b-boy slang flies fast and furious and the dramas of the 'hood are loud and lively--no upper middle-class hand-wringing here. Teens who prefe ...more
Everett Coonradt
I honestly thought this book was pretty good, but I did not like the nicknames. I understand that they are in the Hip-Hop era and people have gangster names, but I still didn't love it. The plot was pretty good and I can relate to it because each year I go to the same summer camp for a week. I have always loved stories about summer camp because so many funny, sad, and fun things happen so it was a good thing to be able to relate to. I gave this book 3 stars because I have read much better books ...more
Apr 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Very accessible main characters in Smiles and Nike. I can see the teens in the juvenile detention center where I teach being able to relate to these characters. The only negative I have with the book is that the setting in the 1980's sometimes felt forced. Then again, it would not hurt my teens to have a mini history lesson hidden in a good story. ...more
Zacarias Rivera, Jr.
It's 1983; the South Bronx; hip-hop; a stirring YA novel that focuses on relationships between friends, guys and girls, and family members. I would, without vacillation or hesitation, teach this novel to my high school students. It's copasetic! ...more
The alternating voices in this book distanced me from the characters. I would have preferred a book solely from the viewpoint of either Smiles or Nike. Both characters had important stories to tell.
I feel like this is something teenage me would have read growing up. I know it's set in the 80s, but it also has that 90s feel. The characters are lively and so are their struggles. ...more
Reviewed in the Horn Book.
Anthony Otero
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great read. This made me relive much of my childhood in ways I haven't thought of in a long time. The pacing is great and I loved the different perspectives of Smiles and Nike. ...more
Aug 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. It completely brought me back to the early 80s. I'll be thinking about Nike, Smiles and Sara for a long time. Highly recommended. ...more
Kim B.
Sep 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
I'm really glad I went back to this one. ...more
Fiorella Casella
Sep 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like it but i feel like it took a bit to get into the real action. More on my blog:
Oct 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really enjoyed this, though there is a lot going on.
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Sofia Quintero is the author of several novels and short stories that cross genres. Born into a working-class Puerto Rican-Dominican family in the Bronx., the self-proclaimed Ivy League homegirl earned a BA in history-sociology from Columbia University in 1990 and her MPA from the university's School of International and Public Affairs in 1992. After years of working on a range of policy issues fr ...more

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“Nike’s the worst counselor in the history of Saint Aloysius, but he’s not Pooh. And as much as Pooh is my least favorite of the homies who come to Q’s storefront, spending time with him there has reminded me that Pooh isn’t just Pooh either.” 0 likes
“The people everyone complains about and no one wants to help.” 0 likes
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