In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer — nicknamed for his love of sweets — fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago’s southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty relives the confusion of these traumatic days from the point of view of Roger, a neighborhood boy who struggles to understand the senseless violence swirling through the streets around him. Awakened by the tragedy, Roger seeks out answers to difficult questions — was Yummy a killer or a victim? Was he responsible for his actions or are others to blame?
This book reminded me of Monster, by Walter Dean Myers. Below is the synopsis of Monster. This book is a quick read, and I wasn’t as much of a fan of the artwork, but there’s a deep story to be told here. In a way that many people may not understand. This book is important, and the concepts of it are beyond salient. Lots of kids go through a lot more than they let on, and many books show that in really important ways. This is an example of one of those books.
I was impressed with this book and the story it told. I would highly recommend it for tweens, girls and boys. A really quick read. 4 stars.
pg count for the paperback: 96
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Synopsis: This book is written in the format of a movie screenplay interjected with the main character’s – a 16-year old African-American boy Steve Harmon’s – diary-like entries. Steve is on trial for murder (he is accused of being a lookout during a robbery resulting in the death of the store owner), therefore the screenplay unfolds as an intense courtroom drama, where majority of the witnesses are criminals who were at some point cut a deal to testify against Steve and Steve’s alleged partner and killer – James King.
This story raises a multitude of questions about guilt, peer pressure, racial stereotyping, and flaws of court system. How can you possibly trust the testimonies of criminals, who do so only to reduce their sentences? Is Steve guilty or he just happened to be in a wrong place at a wrong time? If he is innocent, how can a Harlem black boy possibly distance himself from criminals (who he is only acquainted with) in the eyes of the jury? If he is guilty, is his screenplay a way for him to convince himself of his innocence? If he was in a fact a lookout, does it make him a murderer? And does it even matter if he is guilty or innocent if in the eyes of people around him he is a MONSTER regardless of the outcome of the trial?
The ending of the book is vague, we all have to decide if Steven is a victim or a criminal.
Note: This story didn’t have a great synopsis so I took the synopsis off a review on Goodreads. Top one. Tatiana. (Thank you!)
pg count for the paperback: 281
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