Sandra Strange's Reviews > Scorpions

Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers
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Sep 03, 2009

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bookshelves: young-adult

It is easy to see why this novel, from all of Myers’ novels, won Newbery Honor status. Although it deals with the same kinds of conflicts and challenges treated in many of his other novels, it is more sophisticated and less hopeful, leaving an open ended ending that hints of problems still to come in the life of the young Harlem African American protagonist. The 12 year old protagonist could be drawn from typical gang member profiles: weak in academic skills, he is picked on at school by a stronger, older buddy. His older brother was head of the Scorpions gang, making money as couriers for a drug ring until an armed robbery resulted in his going to prison. His father, irresponsible and abusive, only shows up at home occasionally, and his mother must work long hours to support the boy and his sister. His brother’s buddies try to draw the protagonist into the gang, giving him a gun, which gets him into major trouble. He manages to get out of trouble by the end of the book, but loses his best friend in the process. The novel portrays the gang/drug life realistically and would serve as a good source of meaningful writing and discussion about gangs, drugs, responsibility, poverty.

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