Saturday, March 26, 2011
Author: Allison van Diepen
Publisher: Simon Pulse (imprint of Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing Division), 2007
First read: March 18th, 2011
Page total: 297 pages
Genre(s): Serious Issues, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
Synopsis: In a school run by gangs, it's almost impossible to stay neutral - but Julia DiVino and her best friend Q have made vows to stay that way until they graduate and get the hell out of the place. But everything changes when Eric Valienté enters her life. Lines are redrawn. And then they're crossed.
All I can say is, WOW! Julia's voice is so real, I can practically picture the whole thing. Julia's friendship with Q and Black Chuck, her falling in love with Eric and her dealing with Crips and Bloods...
Julias smart, but she's also very human. I immediately liked her. No matter how reckless and dangerous her choices are, I can't not like her. Oh, and the turns and twists that kept coming, I never expected them! I won't say anything because I don't want to spoil anything but I never thought
a) Eric would do what he did
b) Julia would do anything to protect him.
The situation Allison van Diepen tries to capture -many gangs that divide people into many groups, students dropping out, violence, the revenge, the gang life (i.e. gang "family" members etc.)- is so very real.
Julia's position in the whole mess of gangs was one of the main topics in this book and it held my interest. When we first meet Julia, she isn't into the whole gang crap and stays out of their businesses together with her friend Q. But she's not a goody-goody girl by any means. She knows the dangers of streets and she knows of the temptations of the drugs. She decided it's not her thing, so she's staying out of it. Until she meets Eric... and everything she's believed in spins out of control. And later, when she wasn't... neutral, it was interesting to see how her attitude toward the gang life changed. But again, she had her reasons for what she did and I can't really judge her, can I?
The tension remains until the very end and I was so devastated to see the book end but it was wrapped up nicely. And even though it is told from Julia's PoV (I've got the feeling the author did it so the readers wouldn't be able to get into Eric's head) the narration is very neutral and it often comes off as third person narrator.
So very realistic, so very intense and so very captivating.