cover image Show and Prove

Show and Prove

Sofia Quintero. Knopf, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-0-375-84707-3

It’s 1983, and best friends Nike and Smiles are working as camp counselors at a church in the South Bronx. This summer, there’s friction, since Smiles transferred to a Manhattan private school, leaving Nike behind. As they approach senior year, Smiles realizes how his education has changed him, wrestling with what W.E.B. Du Bois called “double consciousness”—a foot in two worlds, an outsider in both. Nike’s problems are less philosophical: neighborhood gangsters are after him, and he’s in love with a girl who keeps him at arm’s length, something the stylish break-dancer isn’t used to. The boys take turns narrating in a Bronx patois (“I couldn’t ruin my fly outfits with those fugly Sasquatch rentals with the fat orange wheels and matching toe stop,” says Nike, who brings his own skates to a roller rink), and Quintero’s (Efrain’s Secret) novel brims with crises of the day: budget cuts brought on by Reaganomics, war in the Middle East, AIDS, and the crack epidemic. Readers who settle into its rhythms will find a compelling story about how impossibly hard it can be to simply grow up. Ages 12–up. (July)