Lines are clearly marked at South Bay High School. It’s mixed territory for the Crips and the Bloods, which means the drama never stops.
Julia DiVino wants none of it. No colors, no C-Walks— it’s just not her thing.
But when Eric Valienté jumps into her life, everything changes. Lines are redrawn. And then they’re crossed.
Van Diepen (Street Pharm) gives readers a close-up look at the explosive world of youth gangs in this mostly convincing novel. At narrator Julia DiVino's Brooklyn high school, "staying out harder than joining," but she and her best friend made a pact in seventh grade never to get "jumped in" and they've kept it. Her resolve is tested when she falls for hot-looking Eric Valiente, the new guy from Detroit, who affects her like "a shot of caffeine to my bloodstream," even though he joins the Crips. After she warns Eric of an imminent attack by a rival gang, Julia is labeled a snitch and gets badly beaten. Her friends are too frightened to associate with her, and Crip girls take revenge for Julia, leaving her with a "Crip debt to be paid." The die is cast for a terrible choice. The author's experience working in a tough Brooklyn high school comes through in her knowledge of the inner workings of gangs, even though Julia's voice wavers between earnestness and authenticity ("You see, she was mad horny"). A gripping story that is never preachy and presents powerful, all-too-real conflicts. Ages 14-up.