Review Detail4.0 2
Julia DiVino is a smart girl living in a ghetto neighborhood in Brooklyn. Italian and Puerto Rican, shes been living with just her dad since her mother passed away. Two major gangs, the Bloods and the Crips run Sheepshead High School, but Julia is way too smart to get involved in any of that. Julia and her girlfriends made a promise to each other way back in junior high that they would never join gangs. Life was so much easier without the drama and troubles that joining a gang inevitably brought. With Julias plans to be a writer and go to college, she has such a bright future, and she wont do anything to put that future in jeopardy.
Enter Eric ValientÃ©. Rhymes with caliente, the Spanish word for hot. And Eric is just that. When Eric shows up at school, the new handsome senior transferred from Detroit, all of the girls have their eyes on him. So Julia is surprised when Eric seems interested in her, a girl that many call cute, but few would deem sexy. Julias no dummy when it comes to love, shes had her heart broken before, and she knows to keep her guard up with Eric. Anyone with his swagger and good looks is sure to be a player. But as Julia starts talking to Eric and getting to know him, she decides that he deserves a second chance. He came to Brooklyn to start over, and he is seriously interested in Julia!
It seems like Julias life is perfect right now. With a sweet and attractive new boyfriend and all her girlfriends by her side, Julia is in heaven. So when one day, Eric announces that hes joined the local chapter of the Crips, Julia is shocked. How could he do something so drastic without first telling her, especially when he knows how much she hates the gangbanger lifestyle? Theres more to Erics past than he has told Julia, and because he wasnt straight with her, Julia ends their relationship, even though she still loves him. Having a boyfriend who is in a gang would go against everything she has always believed.
One night, at a party, when Julia makes a spontaneous decision that saves Erics life, she unknowingly becomes a Crip by association. When her girlfriends abandon her and she gets jumped, Julia is forced to rethink her whole life. Joining a gang means unconditional support and safety in numbers, but if she joins, shell never be able to get out.
Van Diepen is brilliant in weaving this complex story and writing with such an authentic voice. No doubt her experience teaching in Brooklyn contributes to her crafting a realistic story and in capturing Julias inner struggles beautifully. Van Diepen disproves the theory that only bad kids join gangs. There are so many reasons that people make the decisions they do and something as simple as being in the wrong place at the wrong time can be lifechanging. Van Diepens writing will have readers empathizing with Julia and the difficulties she faces.