The New Edition was hot, Prince and Michael Jackson were cute, and Hattiesburg Mississippi was a small mostly crime-free town until the mid-1980's when gangs and drugs descended. Still that doesn't stop a young girl from falling in love.
Della a young teen girl becomes infatuated with a member of the "Folks." The boy, "Cheeseburger," ignores Della and is unaware of her fantasies about him. With a schoolgirl innocence and imagination, she daydreams about them being in love. However, her imaginary love is unpredictable. On those days when she's not enamored, she sides with her mother and can't stand him, the gang, and the ground they walk on. But, as she says so simply and eloquently, "Then I saw Cheeseburger's arms and fell back in love with him." How will this emotional unrequited love/hate journey affect Della in the end?
A 1987 PEN/Discovery prize winner selected by Joyce Carol Oates.
The week that I wasn't in love with Cheeseburger I called him and them other boys dogs, and Mama seemed happy with me. We talked about what a shame it was them thugs, from up north were comin' down south, bringin' that dope with 'em, and breakin' into people's houses. Everybody on the block was gettin' burglar bars and bad dogs. Hattiesburg was hirin' more police. It was just a shame, me and Mama agreed.
Then I saw Cheeseburger's navel and fell back in love with him. And Mama started fussin' at me 'cause I was a girl and not a boy. She said I was drawin' them nigguhs to her fence like shit draws flies. My Mama said that to me. And no matter how much I looked like I was ignorin' those boys (I really was ignorin' ol' Polo Mack), she fussed more. Even when they didn't paint the moon and stars on her fence, she fussed.