Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Urban Fiction for Teens

This spring, I read some urban fiction, especially that aimed at teens. For those who don't know, urban fiction (also called street lit, because it got started with self-published authors selling their books on the streets) deals with characters in lower-income urban areas. It's gotten really popular and there's quite a range these days. (Sometimes I compare it with romance, there's Jane Austen and there are bodice-rippers with Fabio on the cover. They're both romance but they're VERY different types of books with very different readership bases!) When one usually thinks of more "classic" urban fiction, it tends to be more plot and less character driven. This type is not a genre I normally read or normally enjoy, so please keep that in mind when reading these reviews. It's not my cup of tea. BUT! It's really popular with the people I work with and sometimes it's good to get out of your comfort zone, so that's why I pick it up from time to time.

Bluford High: Lost and Found Anne Schraff

Darcy is not having an easy time of it. After her grandmother had her stroke, Darcy and her little sister are growing apart. Darcy doesn't like the crowd her sister is hanging out with and the music she's listening to. To top it off, her science teacher as paired her with a a real nobody for their big project. Darcy needs to maintain a good GPA to get out of her neighborhood, but how can she when she's working with Tara?

To make matters worse, she's pretty sure that someone has been following her for a few days. And a threatening note was left on her desk.

Bluford High is super-popular at my library. They're short, fast reads that focus more on plot than character development. Bluford High is in a rougher part of town--the kids are poorer. Darcy's dealing with absent parents--her dad's long gone and her mom works nights at the hospital. BUT they're pretty clean. They're great books for kids who want urban fiction but aren't ready for some of issues/situations/language usually found in urban fic. (For instance, one Bluford title, The Bully, was the principals "book of the month" at the local junior high last fall.) Excellent for reluctant readers, especially.

UPDATE 10/14/2009 Sorry, this new policy of saying where EVERY book came from is going to take awhile to get used to! Copy from: the library!

Hotlanta Denene Millner and Mitzi Miller

Sydney and Lauren Duke may be twins, but they're as different as night and day. It's been years since their mother remarried and took them out of the ghetto and into the stratosphere of Atlanta's African-American elite, but something is happening to pull the Duke twins back to their old neighborhood. Sydney wants to reconnect with her father, who just got out of jail and Lauren has met a guy she can finally trust and open up to, even if he isn't from the wrong side of the tracks.

What the twins find are secrets--small petty high school stuff they keep from each other, and big ones that threaten to tear their family apart. When somebody turns up dead, everything threatens to blow.

The mystery doesn't get resolved in this book, it basically just gets set up. And I don't really care and I'm not going to pick up the next book in the series. It was pretty obvious that the surprise bad guy was going to be the surprise bad guy. I didn't connect with any of the characters and while it was a fairly breezy read, I forgot most of it as soon as I set it down. It's an interesting mix of genres--Rich Mean Girl and Urban Fiction that I know a lot of teens love (and I know a lot of teens who love love love this series), but it just didn't do anything for me.

UPDATE 10/14/2009 Sorry, this new policy of saying where EVERY book came from is going to take awhile to get used to! Copy from: the library!

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