Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Fiction as lesson - yawn!

So, having dissed the readers of The Freedom Writers' Diary for not being "authentic" enough for its location, I am now listening to a novel that takes place in the identified "'hood," Homeboyz by Alan Lawrence Sitomer. Evidently, this is the third in a trilogy (Hoopster) about a Los Angeles family with four children. Each book is devoted to one of the children, except this one -- because the youngest child is gunned down in a drive-by shooting, and her next oldest brother, Teddy, vows revenge. Thus far, I'm thinking that Teddy is as smart as his older brother and sister portrayed in the earlier novels, but considerably less socialized. Until he broke the law, he was headed for a computer hacking career at the NSA. Now, though, he's on parole, supervised by the very hot Parole Officer, Mariana Diaz, while mentoring a middle schooler who seems destined for juvenile hall himself.

If you can get around the frequent lectures, as well as the descriptions of perfect bodies and super-intelligent brains, this is a mildly entertaining story. It's the kind that, I think, white kids from the suburbs want to read in order to find out the "truth" of what goes on in the inner city; as opposed to a book that kids in the inner city would want to read about their lives. It seems like high-school fantasy (like It Girls or Gossip Girls [never read either] or that one called Haters I read a few months ago).

The reader, JD Jackson, reads the preposterous story well, infusing it with a bit of reality. He reads with the same precision that the male reader did in Freedom Writers', but he sounds like a resident of the area. He also does a good job with girls -- which are sometimes a problem for male readers (as boys are for female ones). As I was listening last night and this morning, though, the author's interruptions to the story -- to lecture me on the evils of school bureaucracy, the fact that government spends more on jails than it does on schools, and more on suburban schools than inner city schools, etc. etc. etc. -- were just getting to be a real pain. Get on with the story of Teddy and Micah, I plead to my tape player! It may not be great literature, but at least it's interesting!

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