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Strasser, Todd.
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2004.
ISBN 0689841698

(2 booktalks)

Bootkalk #1

Why don't you just go home?  Can't.  Mother's new husband is still there.  Can't.  Mother threw me out.  Can't.  Don't want to talk about it.  Can't get there from here.  So here they are.  Street kids.  Trying to take care of each other when they can't even take care of themselves.  They are cold, dirty, hungry and hopeless.  Society doesn't care about them.  They are throw away kids.  But you will care about them by the end of this book.  Get to know Maybe and Tears and Rainbow and Jewel and the others as they form a tribe and try to survive on the streets of New York City.

Booktalk #2

This novel about runaway teens on the streets of New York , a group ignored by society, does not hold anything back. As the loosely knit band struggles to survive, a girl with the street name "Maybe" narrates the cruel realities of hunger, drug abuse, HIV, prostitution, and death. Displaying distinct personalities but dependent on one another for food, shelter, and money, each teen has fled intolerable abuse at home, evoking sympathy from readers. Throughout the book, scenes of begging, abuse, despair, and oddly, the freedom of life on the streets will grab readers and not let go. Maybe refuses help from adult authority but is drawn to the kindness of a public librarian, perhaps because they both have a splotchy skin disorder called vitiligo. News articles of anonymous teens found dead (readers are aware of the circumstances behind each death) expound the book's powerful message. Each runaway vehemently guards his or her identity, but tough postures are slowly peeled away, revealing the hurt of the child. Many adult characters are depicted as either overly helpful or extremely brutal. Librarian Anthony in particular rushes too fast to protect the teens, offering food and use of his office without logically reporting the situation to professionals. That aside, the book is gritty and harsh, and urban teens will love it, being drawn into the story from early on when a cop warns members of the tribe, "You don't have a chance." Recommended with caution for the younger end of the suggested age group because of mature thematic content, however mature language is not an issue. (Prepared by: Kay Horton, SCASL Young Adult Book Awards)

SUBJECTS:     Street children -- Fiction.
                        New York (N.Y.) -- Fiction.


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