cover image The Life I’m In

The Life I’m In

Sharon G. Flake. Scholastic Press, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-338-57317-6

In this candid, riveting companion to her 1998 novel The Skin I’m In, Coretta Scott King Medalist Flake explores the psyche of Maleeka’s former tormentor, 16-year-old Black orphan Charlese “Char” Jones, who, after consecutive expulsions from four schools, is kicked out by 27-year-old sister Juju. Headed to join her grandparents in Alabama, Char changes Greyhound routes, deciding instead to trail a teen mother and her baby whom she befriends. When the mother abandons her child with Char, fiercely independent Char does her best, acquiring lodging, food, and baby supplies. But when money runs out, she grows desperate—enough to fall prey to smooth-talking Anthony, a man willing to cover all expenses if she joins his prostitution ring. Now all Char wants is to return to Juju, but there’s no escape. Strong first-person narration shows the deterioration of Char’s attitude and self-esteem as she struggles to survive. Representing the plight of many, Char’s narrative presents a cruel underbelly of society; returning readers will relish Maleeka’s and Miss Saunders’s reappearances, but any reader can appreciate this novel’s indelible impact. Ages 14–up. [em](Jan.) [/em]