A raised fist against the destructive forces of gentrification and a love letter to communities of color everywhere, Jade Adia's unforgettable debut tells the darkly hilarious story of three best friends willing to do whatever it takes to stay together. The gang is fake, but the fear is real. Rhea's neighborhood is fading away—the mom-and-pop shops of her childhood forced out to make space for an artisanal kombucha brewery here, a hot yoga studio there. And everywhere, the feeling that this place is no longer meant for her. Because while their little corner of South L.A. isn't perfect, to Rhea and her two best friends, it's something even more important—it's home. And it's worth protecting. But as more white people flock to their latest edgy, urban paradise for its cheap rent and sparkling new Whole Foods, more of Rhea's friends and family are pushed out. Until Rhea decides it's time to push back. Armed with their cellphones and a bag of firecrackers, the friends manipulate social media to create the illusion of gang violence in their neighborhood. All Rhea wanted to do was protect her community. Her friends. Herself. No one was supposed to get hurt. No one was supposed to die. But is anyone ever really safe when you're fighting power with fear?
Fifteen-year-old best friends Rhea and Malachi, who are Black, and Zeke, who is Salvadorian, have spent their entire lives in their racially diverse Los Angeles neighborhood. But when gentrification prompts Zeke's callous landlord to dramatically increase his building's rent, the three teens attempt to come up with a solution that will help him, as well as the rest of their community. Meanwhile, Rhea struggles to overcome feelings of jealousy and frustration when magnetic newcomers Lou and Marley, described as having brown skin, infiltrate her friend group. Unbeknownst to their new peers, Rhea, Malachi, and Zeke decide to use gentrifiers' prejudice to their own advantage by creating a fake gang called SOSI, hoping its sudden appearance will garner enough negative attention to persuade developers to stop "colonizing the neighborhood." But after SOSI begins cultivating real fear among local denizens, it sparks deadly consequences. In this riveting portrait of community care, debut author Adia paints the pain, danger, and consequences of gentrification with visceral clarity, highlighting changes such as displacement and fractured families via Rhea's biting and witty voice and her unwavering loyalty to her hometown. Ages 12–up.