David Albacore is dealing with the aftermath of a family tragedy. He's changed his name and moved with his younger sister to a tough inner-city Chicago high school. On top of dealing with balancing school, work, and his feelings for Yolanda, he can't escape the flashbacks of that one terrible night. When an opportunity to get a scholarship to college comes his way, David is faced with a difficult decision: Follow his mother's dream of going to college or keep his family together.
This is a very gritty, realistic tale of an African-American teen and hard choices. Instead of romanticizing this story, the author shows us a very real and gripping portrayal of David's life. David is likeable and very believable in how he deals with a father who murdered his mother and the guilt he carries for not being able to 'save' her. The idea of a teen being the one to hold the family together is very true. As a bilingual teacher I saw this many times with former students who ended up pulling the weight when tragedies happened.
The dialogue and tension between David and Yolanda moves the story right along. David's relationship with his construction boss felt real too. The only thing I did want to see was a little more vulnerability in Malik, who seemed too one-dimensional at times.
The ending of this tale isn't the usually one you expect in some YA contemporary novels. I applaud the author for having the courage to show us David's choice that is both satisfying and real.
Another Westside book winner.