Gordon, age thirteen, is the leader of the Friends, a gang of young black boys who struggle to hold a few blocks of bleak, ragged turf in Oakland--known to the homeboys as Oaktown--California. When a more powerful sixteen-year-old drug dealer tries to set the Friends against their neighboring rival gang, the Crew, the dealer's unwilling bodyguard emerges as the key player in a drama that illuminates America's urban reality in a totally new way. A shocking portrait of young kids living on the slimmest of edges, Way Past Cool is also an inspiring, even hopeful testament to the renewing power of love.
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Jess Mowry was born in 1960 and raised in Oakland. His first book of stories, Rats in the Trees, won the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award in 1990. He lives in Oakland.From Kirkus Reviews:
Black teen gangs in West Oakland are the subject of Mowry's first novel--a long cry of pain and rage over conditions in the ghetto. A fast-moving start (a bunch of kids on their way to school are sprayed with bullets from a passing van) is followed by a very slow-moving story about two early-teen gangs; 16-year-old drug- dealer Deek and his bodyguard Ty; and a teen mother, Markita, working at Burger King to support herself and her baby. Deek, who is evil incarnate, has hired the Big Boys in the van to give both gangs a good scare; the gangs, observing their ``rules,'' have a meet and decide that Deek must be killed. This duly happens, in a climactic firefight that lasts forever. A parallel storyline centers on Ty, a lost soul who regains his humanity when he stops his kid brother Danny from becoming another street-corner dealer and tries to stop Deek from murdering the Big Boys (``they knew too much''). Markita finds him sobbing in an alley and takes him home; they make love, and a schmaltzy ending suggests that they have a future together. Mowry uses this lumbering vehicle to make some familiar points: that his feral, gun-toting homeboys are still kids who do their homework and ache for love; that ghetto life is ``a long line of cages''; that ``black death means nothing to nobody''; and that the drug culture has devastated black pride and solidarity. Mowry (the story collection Rats in the Trees, 1990) does know the territory, but, given his overheated prose, his cry from the heart too often sounds like an out-of-control scream; for a restrained treatment of this material, there's always Boyz 'n the Hood (John Singleton's impressive 1991 movie debut). -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description Perennial, 1993. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110060975458