- Shelley Lantz
Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, by G. Neri, is based on a real child who lived and died on the streets of Chicago. Only eleven years old and already with an extensive criminal background, he was a child, but he was also a gang initiate and had been stealing his whole life. His father was in jail, his mother was on the streets, and he was being raised by his grandmother, as best she could, so she said. This book takes a look at Yummy’s life from the perspective of another young boy who knew him…went to school with him…lived near him…and whose brother was in the gang with him.
I liked the format the author chose--a graphic novel. It was gritty and dark but not too much so. Older tweens will be attracted to its cover with its display of the intent glare of a young boy peeking over the title and its graphic novel genre. The title will also catch their attention because it sounds current and gangster-like.
I would recommend this book to older tweens and teens even though the character and the narrator are both eleven. It has some very disturbing topics--like abandonment, parents in jail, bullying, and brutality, which it handles well. This would be a great book to discuss with friends and family. Was Yummy a good guy gone bad because of his situation? Or, just bad through and through? Did he ever have a chance?