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Scorpions, 25th Anniversary Edition Paperback – April 23, 2013
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From School Library Journal
Jamal, who is pressured to become leader of the Scorpions gang, worries about school, family, and the rough kids on the street. When a fellow gang member gives him a gun, Jamal suddenly gains a new level of respect from his enemies. A realistic look at a boy who wants to do the right thing but gets caught up in the culture of violence. A Newbery Honor selection.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
"Once more, readers have Myers to thank for giving them a greater understanding of the difficulty of life in today's inner city." --" SLJ.""A book honored for its honesty, realism, and vitality."-- "1989 Newbery Award Committee."
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When Jamal glanced out his window into the streets of Harlem, even live birds seemed like grey stones. Mama worked late, scrambling to get the money together for Randy’s appeal. Without legal help, Randy was looking at fifteen to twenty years, and at least seven before he’d be out on parole. After his arrest, Randy announced that Jamal was now the man of the house—a position that had been vacant a long time.
When Jamal was a little boy, his father used to take him outside the projects to the park. Then his dad lost his job and sat around getting drunk. When he got nasty to Mama, they’d all fled to a cousin’s. Some days he’d still drop by, threatening Jamal with a whipping if the boy didn’t start acting like a man. Jamal knew what had happened to the men in his life. They’d taken a part of Mama away, and that part of her was never coming back.
Randy’s friend Mack held out a solution to their financial woes. Mack spent most of his time high on crack or drunk on wine, running the Scorpions gang. The youths ran crack through Harlem, and Jamal could become their leader. Jamal would get the cash to fund Randy’s appeal. The cost was high, but the alternatives were few. His school principal had decided he was a problem kid long ago. He'd told the other students that if they made friends with Jamal, they’d be in trouble if they liked it or not. For Jamal, school was all about teachers telling him what he couldn’t do.
When a gun landed in Jamal’s hand, it looked like his destiny was sealed. Death or prison rose up inescapably before him. With all the cards stacked against him, what other road remained?
But life has a way of changing the rules.
Walter Dean Myers was a National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. He’s won Newbery Honors, Coretta Scott King Award/Honors, the first-ever Michael L.Printz Award, and is a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement. He frequently met with incarcerated teens in juvenile detention centers. One of the most important lessons he shared with them was to never give up on life.
Learn more about him at: walterdeanmyers.net
I love Walter D. Myers for having the insight to write books for intercity youths.