Posted in The 12 Books of Christmas Break

12 Books of Christmas Break: If I Grow Up

“Since the dawn of the human race, we have banded together to improve our chances of survival…perhaps we can understand why, when faced with hopelessness, racism, and inescapable poverty, young inner-city men are likely to join gangs.” – Prologue


Title: If I Grow Up
Author: Todd Strasser
Genre: Young Adult fiction
Erin’s teaser synopsis: In this terribly realistic and heartbreakingly sad narrative, the life of DeShawn is tracked through the effects of entrenched poverty and regular occurrences of violence. Living in the Frederick Douglas projects with his grandmother and sister, DeShaun has few options and even fewer ideas of how to make the right choice. DeShaun’s friends, though smaller players, are just as heartbreaking in their situations.
Why I relate to it: I may live and work in a suburb, but it’s a large suburb that is on the poorer side of Dallas. In fact, many of the teachers who work with me would never – and will never – live in the city or send their children to school in the very district that they work in. Some of my kids don’t even live in the relative safety of my little ‘hood, and are forced to make difficult decisions similar to the ones faced by the characters in Strasser’s novel on a regular basis.
Judgement call: I held off on writing this post even though I read the book on Christmas because it was just so damn depressing. However, I think that it’s an important read. Why? Because it’s not about a hot topic right now, not really. It’s about an old story that people are aware of, and are, quite frankly, tired of feeling guilty over. But the waste of life and the denial that a person’s circumstances sometimes take success and good citizenship out of the equation is not something that we should be ignoring or pushing to the back burner as an accepted sad truth. It’s something that we need to work towards getting rid of – not work towards covering up because the media has moved on in the way our consciences desire.

Interested in the quick read? Find it at the local library, or at Amazon.



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

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