Butterball will never tell what caused him to hit that kid on the playground with a sock full of batteries. He won't talk to his mom, who moved them to this dingy suburb of Long Island so she could go to nursing school and start her life with someone new. He can't share anything with his dad, who still lives in NYC and doesn't have much time for Butterball. And he definitely won't tell this out of touch lady therapist that his school is forcing him to see. But if you get on Butterball's good side, he just might open up to you. ---------- Inspired by 50 Cent's own adolescence, Playground is a hard hitting and inspirational story of the redemption of a bully
His overworked, womanizing dad tells him "You want the world to treat you like a man, you gotta start acting like one. Now watch and learn." Then, his dad cuts in line and gets in the face of the guy who got cut:
'My dad whipped around and stuck his face right up close to the guy's. He flinched and took a step back. "Oh, yeah?" Dad said threateningly, "Well, looks like it's my place now, don't it."'
The book plunges you into the world of a 13 year old misfit looking to fit in. The story unfolds through his sessions with a counselor and at times was a little too introspective for me. It is true to life, and I liked how it brought out my own struggles in the 7th grade that had gone unresolved.
Sometimes the book got a little preachy like throughout the book several characters in the book talk about healthy eating. At one point a teacher says:
"But, listen, guys, if you ever have any questions about this kind of thing, I run a little informal nutrition clinic out of my classroom during my off periods. You can bring your parents in, too - good nutrition starts at home..."
My favorite part of the book is when Butterball describes the movie he is filming. I wanted to go see if it was up on YouTube!
The plot is compelling and kept me reading. The characters and the world Butterball lives in is drab and depressing. But that is because he sees the world through a drab and depressing lens. He doesn't know why he reacts the way he does. But by the end of the book there is hope, and it is a relief to see him grow.
There is a lot of language, and bad decision making....but it's not gratuitous. It's part of the world Butterball lives in. For anyone who has shared in that world, they will find his story helpful.