BEGGING FOR CHANGE

Sharon G. Flake, Author
Sharon G. Flake, Author . Hyperion/Jump at the Sun $15.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7868-0601-0
Reviewed on: 06/09/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
Paperback - 248 pages - 978-1-4231-0384-4
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-7868-1405-3
Prebound-Other - 978-0-606-30550-1
Prebound-Sewn - 978-0-7569-8096-2
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Once again, Flake captures the essence of inner city life as she continues her insightful saga of Raspberry Hill, an impoverished teen obsessed with getting money whatever way she can. As in Money Hungry, Raspberry's determination to build a nest egg for herself and her mother leads to trouble. On two occasions, Raspberry steals cash from friends. Although she receives no actual punishment for her acts, she does have to bear the guilt and regret of knowing she has committed some serious breaches in trust. Readers who judge Raspberry harshly at first may have a change of heart as complex motives for the protagonist's impulsive behavior come to light. At times it may appear that Raspberry is trapped by her grim environment, yet the author pointedly implies that the teenager does have choices. Raspberry can give in to despair, like her errant, drug-addict father, or she can break the cycle of poverty, like her mother's boyfriend, Dr. Mitchell, who managed to escape the projects without compromising his integrity. Touching upon issues of prejudice, street violence, homelessness and identity crises, this poignant novel sustains a delicate balance between gritty reality and dream fulfillment. In the end, after moving to a better neighborhood and admitting her crimes to her mother, Raspberry seems to be taking some positive steps in the right direction. However, enough loose ends remain untied so that fans will be left eager for another episode. Ages 10-up. (June)

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