Monday, October 26, 2009

Review: Cashay

Margaret McMullan
2009; Houghton Mifflin; ISBN 978-0-547-07656-0 (hardcover)

Summary: Cashay and Sashay might live in the projects, but they're not going to be like their mother, a drug addict, or like other girls who get pregnant. But when Sashay is shot and killed, Cashay's anger starts to overwhelm her. Why can't she have what she wants? How can she go on without Sashay? But thanks in part to her mentor Allison, Cashay willd iscover how she'll be able to escape the projects.

Three Things to Know about Cashay

#1: How do you adapt when your life changes?

Cashay is an insightful look at one girl dealing with taking control of her life. The death of Sashay derails Cashay's original plan, of taking care of her sister and staying together. Even though this plan held Cashay back, it allowed her to make sure both of them were safe and able to succeed. But with Sashay's death, Cashay is alone--and left to formulate a new plan. It's a difficult transition, but Cashay will slowly create a set of goals.

#2: There is a need for mentors.

Teens need parents and teachers that care and support them. Equally important is the presence of adults that don't fall into either of these two categories: adults that can help teens by serving as mentors and role models. Cashay is helped as she creates her new life by Allison. Described as a skinny white woman, Allison volunteers at an afterschool program where she is paired with Cashay. Allison opens Cashay to a whole new world, where women can act like men, staking lots of money on a reading f the stock market. Through Allison's influence, Cashay starts to create a plan for herself and herself alone.

#3: We can't always save the ones we love.

The death of Sashay doesn't just hurt Cashay. Their mother, who had been clean for three years, gets hooked again, letting her drug dealer move into their apartment. She loses her job and isn't able to help Cashay deal with her grief. And Cashay tries to help her mother, but she's not able to get through to her. Making it even worse, Cashay's mother gets pregnant and gives birth to a drug-addicted baby. If Cashay hadn't had the influence of Allison in her life, she might have put her dreams aside to help her mother. But Cashay has seen that sometimes you have to let someone save themselves. Cashay's mother gives the baby away and is sent to rehab, to start the slow process of getting clean for good. And that's a journey that Cashay can't help with, beyond giving her mother support.

With a lot to say, Cashay is an eye-opening novel about coming of age. With an authentic voice that doesn't fall into cliches, Cashay's hopes and fears come through vividly. In stop sand starts, Cashay is able to lay the groundwork for her future. That happens with the help of Allison as well as Cashay's aunt and teacher. Plus, the inner-city setting shows that there's more than hopelessness in the projects--there's also community and dreams. Cashay will appeal to readers who have enjoyed Coe Booth or Walter Dean Myers.

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