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If I Grow Up. Todd Strasser (2010)

by Todd Strasser(Favorite Author)
4.04 of 5 Votes: 3
1847387314 (ISBN13: 9781847387318)
Simon & Schuster
review 1: *Spoiler Alert*I know that may not have grown up in the "low class" minority suburban area that we know as the ghetto. But you may have friends or family that do live there. You can just ask them how hard it is to grow up in that kind of area, to survive even. I can say for sure that this is a gritty, urban drama. In the heart of the Frederick Douglass District, gunshots and violence rings out day in and day out. Everyday, teenagers drop out of school to join the local gang, the Douglass Disciples. Everyone knows each other, so if someone dies, the chances of a random child knowing that person are really high. DeShawn knows better than to join the gang, not because he's educationally smart, but because he's street smart. DeShawn knows who're the drug dealers, the messenger... mores, the guards, and the leaders, not by memory, but by heart. But growing up in the ghetto doesn't leave you with a lot of choices. DeShawn's family is starving, whist his friends are getting new clothes and and real food, like cereal, steak, chicken, and eggs. DeShawn's family is so poor that they have to feed of DeShawn's sister's baby formula and such. But the worst part of living in the ghetto are the gangs. The Gentry Gangstas and the Douglass Disciples are at war with each other, buying military weapons off the black market just to have the upper hand. This all started when a group of Disciples and Gangstas met years before and had an argument. DeShawn is the main character, he varies by age because the story passes by over 5 years. He lives with his Grandma, his sister, and eventually, his sister's babies. But this gritty urban drama has a lot of plot twists and surprises every page of the way.I think this is one of the most perfectly written books that I've read so far in my life. The main character was so perfectly described because of how the author actually traveled around certain cities to observe and ask about how it feels living in these violent areas. The point of view this story came from is from a teenager who doesn't want to be caught up in these gangs, to be where he is, to have to struggle living in such poor conditions. The author wrote DeShawn's point of view amazingly well because Mr. Strasser actually went and experienced what it feels like to live in DeShawn's environment. The character's motivation to get out of the Douglass District was the fact that he knew there was something else he could do with his life if he managed to leave the ghetto.I was very surprised when at the end of the story because he gets arrested and sent to jail, where he says all gang members that don't die will eventually go to. This is surprising because after everything he went through to not end up there, he still ended up in the one place that I least expected, in a federal prison. I was struck by this passage in the book," You're wondering why I bother?" The teacher asked. " Most of these kids don't want my help. They're perfectly fine clowning around without a thought of their future. But maybe you're different. Maybe you'll do something with your life." It shows what I think the perfect example of our school. The teacher who told DeShawn this explained in the most simplest way what goes on in our school. Half of the kids in each of my classes are either fooling around or not even paying attention to what the teacher is teaching. I really hoped this quote I took from the story changed or enhanced your perspective on our school's education system.I think this was one of the best novels that I've read in a long time. I would give this a solid 9 out of 10 because of how this book seemed so life like, as if this was based on a real person. As if the author wrote their life story. So you may be asking why I liked this story so much. That's because a lot if my friends from my childhood do live in the ghetto and sometimes describe how it feels to survive there and how there are no non-violent options except to move.
review 2: Your a young, innocent boy living in the projects, with your elderly grandmother and older sister. You barely have a place to lay your head, every day you risk your life just by going outside, and the only place you feel comfortable at is school. But who has time to think about school when your having hard times at home. You barely eat each night and you start feeding off scrubs that you find in the trash can. Who do you turn to? WHAT do you turn to? Young Deshawn try so hard to stay in school, because he's a very bright student and his teachers think so too, but your best friend, along with the rest of you friends are not in school and already joined a gang. They have all the brand new gear, and wads of cash in their pockets and you and your family still have nothing. So you have no choice but to join the Gangster Disciples. He's getting older, and lately things been much easier on Deshawn and his small family. Every since he join the neighborhood gang, more money then ever have been coming in and now he can afford to put food on the table and clothes on his back. However, he's more involved with the gang and drug dealing which puts him and his family in serious danger. Every since the gang ring leader, and father figure to Deshawn was set up and killed, he felt he had to take over and be leader which is a serious job. The Gangster Disciples rival and arch enemies whom they have not got along with over money and drugs, finally realize that their was guaranteed more money to be made if they set aside there differences, and stop shooting and fighting with one another. Much more years later Deshawn has life in jail for murdering the new "loyal" gang leader and your use-to-be gangster friends are now out of the streets and living great. The life you would be living if you wouldve stayed in school and out of the streets. "If I Grow Up" is a great book to read if you like books that excites you with big twist and crazy endings. If you need a reality check I would recommend this book to you. less
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Really opens your eyes to another world you never think about. Very realistic.
VERY heavy-handed with all the problems.
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