cover image Scorpions


Walter Dean Myers. HarperCollins Publishers, $16.99 (216pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024364-7

Jamal is caught in a tightening web of trouble; his older brother Randy sends word from prison for him to take over as leader of his gang, the Scorpions. But the older members of the gang challenge his authority, first with taunts and then with fists. Randy's warlord, Mack, gives Jamal a gun and pushes him to make a stand. Despite the entreaties of his mother, sister, and best friend Tito, and his own wish to be out of the gang scene, Jamal is forced into one fight after another. Jamal's Harlem is afflicted by a tide of crack and crime and sudden violence; he is confronted by this tide even though he is only 12 years old. Myers writes with candor and an eye for the strange contrasts of a child's world in which dreams and despair somehow coexist, and where two boys can talk about sliding down a firefighter's pole and shooting a Sterling .380 D/A pistol as if there were no difference between the two activities. It is a realistic, spare and almost unbearably sad story. Ages 12-up. (June)