Dough Boys (So Done #2)

Dough Boys (So Done #2)
Age Range
Release Date
August 27, 2019
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In the companion to her acclaimed So Done, Paula Chase follows best friends Simp and Rollie as their friendship is threatened by the pressures of basketball, upcoming auditions, middle school, and their growing involvement in the local drug ring.

Dough Boys is a memorably vivid story about the complex friendship between two African American boys whose lives are heading down very different paths. For fans of Jason Reynolds’s Ghost and Rebecca Stead’s Goodbye Stranger.

Deontae “Simp” Wright has big plans for his future. Plans that involve basketball, his best friend, Rollie, and making enough money to get his mom and four younger brothers out of the Cove, their low-income housing project.

Long term, this means the NBA. Short term, it means being a dough boy—getting paid to play lookout and eventually moving up the rungs of the neighborhood drug operation with Rollie as his partner.

Roland “Rollie” Matthews used to love playing basketball. He loved the rhythm of the game, how he came up with his best drumbeats after running up and down the court. But playing with the elite team comes with extra, illegal responsibilities, and Rollie isn't sure he's down for that life. The new talented-and-gifted program, where Rollie has a chance to audition for a real-life go-go band, seems like the perfect excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?

Paula Chase explores universal themes of friendship and budding romance, while also exploring complex issues that affect many young teens. Full of basketball, friendship, and daily life in a housing project, this universal story is perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds’s Track series, Jewell Parker Rhodes’s Ghost Boys, and Chris Crutcher.

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Simp and Rollie both live in the Cove, and are doing they best they can in a rough neighborhood. They are both very interested in basketball, but being on the neighborhood team, the Marauders, also means that they work as lookouts during drug sales for their coach, Tez. Simp is glad to have the money to help out his mother and younger brothers, but Rollie doesn't like the illegal activity at all, and know that his church going grandmother would not be happy if she found out. Rollie is more interested in music. He is in the Gifted and Talented program at his school, and his music teacher, Mr. B., thinks he has a shot at the big time when a local boy band asks him to audition. Simp feels that basketball and living in the Cove are his only options, so when his mother indicates she knows where they money is coming from and wants him to get his younger brothers involved, he thinks this is a possibility. He is looking to move up in Tez's organization, but he fears that Rollie wants out. Rollie does, but he wants to support his best friend. He hopes that he can get into the band, and that will be his excuse for dropping the look out jobs. When Rollie is attacked because of his involvement with Tez, both boys reassess their activity and plan a new way forward.
Good Points
This is a continuation of So Done, but can be read independently, even though Bean and Tai do show up in this volume. Since the main focus of the first book is dance, and this is more concerned with basketball, it will appeal to a different set of readers. There is plenty of basketball, certainly, but the major concern is Tez's drug running and the boys involvement with it. While I can think of books for older readers that involve this sort of activity, this is one of the few middle grade novels that have young teens working their way up in a drug organization. It is sad that this occurs in real life, but if we want books to be windows and mirrors for all readers, we need to include this substantial sub culture as well.

Rollie and Simp come from vastly different backgrounds. Rollie has a lot of support at home and doesn't have to worry about where his food is coming from. Simp, on the other hand, frequently pays for babysitting, rent, and food so that his brothers have a better life. His mother is not abusive, but is not a parent who supervises her children closely, either. It was interesting to see how Rollie's church going is portrayed, and how it is an integral part of his personality. Simp's concern for his brothers, and his wish that they have a more stable life than he has, is admirable.

Fans of Sharon Flake, Kekla Magoon, Coe Booth and the late Janet McDonald will enjoy Rollie and Simp's involvement with music, basketball, and the vibrant and sometimes dangerous environment of the Cove.
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