If I Grow Up By Todd Strasser
A troubled kid, a society that turned its back on him, and how he managed to take over one of the biggest gang organizations in his neighborhood.
Filled with murder and crime, If I Grow Up brings to light a perspective that many might not ever get to see otherwise, and it does so brilliantly. We follow the protagonist, DeShawn, throughout his life and see the world through his eyes as his world is turned upside down, once a promising student all the way to gang leader.
Who Is DeShawn?
When the author came up with the main character, he didn’t make a criminal. Instead, he made what could have been a very intelligent productive member of society. A school smart boy who unfortunately saw his dreams crumble as the society he wanted to reach rejected him, leaving him no choice but to turn to a life of crime to feed and provide for his family. Once involved, there was no going back. He witnessed every betrayal and shortcoming the gang had to offer, and he made something from it, “From nothing to something”, like the true genius he is.
A Doomed Environment
The setting takes place in an environment very much alive today, run-down and overcrowded apartment buildings filled with gangs and drugs. At least that’s what the everyday outsider might see when they take a look at one of these places. If I Grow Up does an excellent job putting the reader in this gritty environment, all while showing that there’s more depth then the crime we see. While we follow DeShawn throughout his life, we see the process of which hopes and dreams are lost of children and adults alike. Said dreams and hopes involve would-be lawyers and doctors turned drug dealers and killers.
When judging someone’s life and life decisions, it is important to place ourselves in their shoes, and in If I Grow Up Todd Strasser does an excellent job doing so. This brilliant novel explores the inner city in a way that not most authors do. Enlightening readers to a world they might’ve never seen or experienced, If I Grow Up makes an excellent read.