Written by: David Barclay Moore
Number of Pages: 294
Age Range: 10-14
Lolly’s having a hard time dealing with his older brother Jermaine’s death. The only thing that seems to help is building his Lego city in the bedroom they used to share. When his mother’s girlfriend brings home two large bags full of Legos from her job his city and obsession grow bigger than their apartment in the NYC projects can hold. An adviser in the after school program invites him to use a spare storage room and the city takes on a life of its own, even helping Lolly become an internet sensation practically overnight.
Meanwhile, Lolly and his best friend Vega are also on the verge of making a life-altering decision. In their neighborhood, once you reach a certain age it’s expected that you’ll join a crew or gang. They’ve each been jumped by a couple of older kids and also approached by some of Jermaine’s friends who’ve offered protection and retaliation. Lolly spends more and more time absorbed with his city while Vega takes a different approach and their friendship suffers. Things reach a critical point when Vega gets a gun from his cousin, Frito. Will he convince Lolly to confront the crew with him or will they find a way to step outside of the expected path and do something different with their lives?
One of the best things about books is their ability to show you a world unlike your own and this one definitely fits the bill. I had a hard time reading it because it broke my heart knowing that there are kids who actually have to make decisions like this every day. An author’s note explains his use of African American vernacular throughout the book and the role of language throughout cities in America. I would definitely recommend this, especially as a class read aloud. The discussions will be priceless.