Thursday, October 21, 2010

Review: Yummy

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty
G. Neri; illustrations by Randy DuBurke
2010; Lee & Low Books; ISBN 978-1-58430-267-4 (paperback)

Summary:  Victim, villain, or both?  That's the question in 1994 as an eleven-year-old killer draws attention to Chicago's gang problem.  Nicknamed Yummy due to his love for candy, Robert Sandifer accidentally shoots a teenager in his Southside neighborhood.  The shooting exposes to the world at large many problems: gang warfare, broken homes and neglect, and children killing children.  In hiding after the shooting, Yummy just wants to go home to his grandmother.  But as the gang tires of protecting him, they know they can't let him go home.  Instead, they kill him.  Through the eyes of Roger, a classmate of Yummy's, a senseless story is told. 

With authentic language and stark black and white illustrations, the early 1990s are dramatically captured in Yummy.  The Roseland neighborhood, where stores close at 4pm to allow owners to get home before dark, is a tough, dangerous one.  The gangs and crime turn neighbors into strangers, removing a resource for when the government safety net fails.  Yummy is bounced in the system, never receiving from social workers or his grandmother what he gets from being a member of the Black Disciples.  The questions asked in Yummy are difficult to answer, giving readers an opportunity to consider ethics, morals and choices.

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