Allison's Reviews > If I Grow Up

If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser
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Apr 18, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: boy-readers, contemporary-realistic-fiction, multicultural, reluctant-readers, tween, urban, ya-teen
Read in May, 2012

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 with the stark facts about gangs and inner city kids, and I think it's interesting how he starts each chapter with a different fact paired with a relevant rap lyric. It's important information that teens probably don't learn very often. But the last chapter, when those same facts and the same omniscient-teacher tone is coming from DeShawn, feels a bit much. A little too teach-y.

But other than that If I Grow Up is a poignant, bitter story that really should be read by many many people.

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Just the Adcknowledgments and Preface have blown me away: "Behind the bling and the glowering crossed-arm poses of rappers are poignant lyrics filled with pain and anguish. Not since the antiwar folk songs of my youth have I heard such intense anger and frustration in music. And no wonder. For a significant number of minorities in this country, life, at best, promises to be little more than decades spent at menial low-paying jobs that ultimately enable others to reap the financial benefits. ...hundreds of thousands of undereducated and disadvantaged souls trapped in an endless cycle of hopelessness and despair."

"For those of us who live in the suburbs, small towns, and in the better parts of the urban areas, the impoverished inner cities are portrayed by the media as a cauldron of moral decay and crime that now and then produces a talented athlete or music store. We forget that millions of inner-city denizens are just like us - well-meaning human beings who yearn for the simple and basic privileges our country promises: a decent education, a job with a chance for advancement, and a safe place to raise children. When those privileges are denied, or are unattainable, young mena nd women seek other avenues to satisfy their needs and fulfill their dreams."

This makes me wonder who Strasser wrote this book for, those teens living in impoverished inner cities or those ignorant and naive teens living in the suburbs. Or both.
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