From School Library Journal
Grade 9 Up–Set in Brooklyn, this urban drama novel depicts Ty Johnson's life as a 17-year-old African-American drug dealer. Taking over his father's territory seemed to be all that to Ty when he was younger, but now he realizes that there is more to life–mainly forming a relationship with Alyse, a single mother and his classmate at the local continuation high school. Struggling to hold onto the pieces of his father's business, he faces competition from out of town and things get serious. Neither Alyse nor his mother knows what sort of work Ty does until he ends up in the hospital after a drive-by shooting. Then the teen leaves school completely and moves out of his mother's apartment. He must decide who he is as his life is threatened and he loses the people closest to him. Easy to read and written in street slang including drug references and profanity, this debut novel will appeal to reluctant readers.–Corinda J. Humphrey, Los Angeles Public Library
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Gr. 8-11. While his dad is in prison, Ty Johnson is holding the family business together--the family drug
business. A bright teenager, he has already incorporated surefire business principles into his daily life: never lose control; know your enemies; practice patience; and don't have a girlfriend until age 21. His self-discipline, brains, and business acumen are amazing for a 17-year-old, even though they are invested in a drug-hustling deadend. An alternative school and a lovely young mother seed doubts about his chosen profession, but it is a tragedy that finally convinces him to start over. Van Diepen has created a surprisingly hopeful book, one that respectfully acknowledges the intelligence and street smarts necessary for success, whether the challenge is drug dealing or college preparation. She also tacitly addresses the importance of second and third chances in teens' lives. While the resolution is regrettably unrealistic (few individuals as integrated into the drug trade as Ty can manage to escape as completely as he does), the book does offer an optimistic look at a drug-free, crime-free future for at least one young man. Frances BradburnCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved