Your first love is totally wrong for you.
Do you follow your heart?
Or do you run away?
What am I doing? He'll take one quick look
And wish he was anywhere else but here
I'm already ashamed of what I think
He will think of me, of the life I lead
Yes, she is the fruit that will
Sustain me and yes, she brings
A rain that I know can chill
But it is a rain so sweet and sings
A song my soul insists
That I follow, if I would exist
As more than I have ever, ever been
If my mother calls it evil, then I embrace the sin
Myers's (Monster) compellingly readable novel in verse unfolds through an array of characters, all linked by Damien Battle and Junice Ambers who both live in Harlem but come from very different worlds. Damien has been accepted to Brown University; Junice's mother has been sentenced to 25 years for possession and drug dealing. A pair of early rap poems set up a rivalry between Damien and Sledge (whose "crew... wore their colors"), and also Damien's fascination with a "beauty" who "walks darkly, as if her mind weighs down/ Her steps," later revealed to be Junice. Myers crafts some memorable moments here, as when Junice describes her mother ("She gave freely/ To those in need, or to those who, like/ Her, were broken, and needed a fix") or when Miss Ruby, Junice's grandmother, expresses grief for her convicted daughter in a blues poem ("Yeah, it's hard, baby/ It's hard right down to the bone/ I said Oh, it's hard baby/ It's hard right down to the very bone/ It's hard when you're a woman/ And you find yourself all alone") and the banter between Damien and a buddy. Yet some readers may wish for a deeper understanding of what draws Damien to Junice, and why he risks his own family's upheaval and his future at Brown for this new romance. Though both Damien and Junice come off as sympathetic characters, their attraction to each other remains a mystery. Ages 12-up. (Nov.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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October 29, 2007
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