Harmony Book Reviews

If I Grow Up by Todd Strasser

Posted on: August 11, 2009

If I Grow Up

Title: If I Grow Up

Author: Todd Strasser

Rating: 9/10

Good If… You’re looking for a propelling novel about life in the projects.

Summary: (Taken from Amazon)


In the Frederick Douglass Project where DeShawn lives, daily life is ruled by drugs and gang violence. Many teenagers drop out of school and join gangs, and every kid knows someone who died. Gunshots ring out on a regular basis.

DeShawn is smart enough to know he should stay in school and keep away from the gangs. But while his friends have drug money to buy fancy sneakers and big-screen TVs, DeShawn’s family can barely afford food for the month. How can he stick to his principles when his family is hungry?

In this gritty novel about growing up in the inner city, award-winning author Todd Strasser opens a window into the life of a teenager struggling with right and wrong under the ever-present shadow of gangs.

My Thoughts: If I Grow Up is one of those books that many people will not be able to relate to at all because their lifestyle is so different but will be sucked into regardless.

I picked If I Grow Up randomly, just because I was bored and wanted something different, but it turned out to be one of the most eye-opening books I’d read in a while. Life in the projects, gangs, and everything that accompanies gangs, is something completely foreign to me. Sure, there’s violence around here but nothing on that level. If I Grow Up really gives an insight on what goes on, the people behind the gang, and the feelings that go with it. I’d never really thought of the people who live that lifestyle as “good” guys but after reading this, quite a few of my opinions changed.

The characters, like the whole book in general, were completely foreign to me in most ways. The way girls were treated and acted, the way they treated relationships, everything was just the complete opposite of what I was used to. But, they also felt the same emotions everyone does – lust, crushes, fear, sadness – all of those things were there and added a whole new dimension to the characters.

Overall, I highly recommend this . It flies by and you will barely recognize that you’re reading – it’s that good. The ending will shock you too.


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