I love this book. I love these boys.
Darius and Twig are best friends. They are growing up in Harlem and dreaming of ways out. They live inside a world filled with layers of pain. It isn't easy. They have to cope with bullies and gangs. The have to overcome poverty and alcoholic parents. There is violence and guns and drugs. They have to figure out who they can trust.
These boys are smart. They know they have gifts that might help them get out of the world they are in. Darius is a young author on the cusp of being published. Twig is a long distance runner. Still, without one another, they are lost. Even then it's iffy. "Twig thinks I am growing dark, and he is right. He wants me to live through the pain. I don't think I can." They know they can trust each other to be supportive at the same time as keeping one another honest and true.
They are aware that the odds might be stacked against them. "The chorus in school was that if you did the right thing, that if you worked hard you would succeed. And how many worlds was that true in? Was it true in my mothers world? Was it true in my fathers world?" Can these boys do it?
I like that Myers posits significant adult characters to act as understated role models and mentors. At school is Miss Carroll, the writing teacher, and Mr Day, the coach. At home, two charming old men, Mr Watson and Sammy Hines, hang out on the stairs joshing each other, and offering up advice and support to the boys and the neighbourhood. It does indeed take a community to raise a child, especially in these kinds of circumstances.
Walter Dean Myers' writing is heart stopping glorious. Every once in a while I experience it at a visceral level and am filled, simultaneously, with darkness and light.
Some quotes will haunt me for a long time.
"That's one thing we get to be good at, be quiet when we are hurt."
"Maybe the boy did have faith in the dolphins. He had just lost faith in everything else"
I'm definitely getting a copy for our library.