Thursday, October 7, 2010

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty-- G. Neri and Randy DuBurke, Illustrator

Robert Sandifer is 11 years old. Everyone calls him Yummy because he has a sweet tooth that just won't quit. He lives with his grandma in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. He's just a little guy, a shortie, only 4 feet tall and maybe 60 pounds. Yummy still sleeps with a teddy bear. And Yummy shot a 14 year old girl. He shot her with a gun that was given to him by his mentors, members of the gang Black Disciples.

Yummy has an extraordinarily hard life. His father is in prison. His abusive mother has been in and out of jail for drugs and prostitution over 40 times. Yummy learned that the only way to be safe was to have a gang watching out for you. But being a part of the Black Disciples has it's price and Yummy paid it in the fullest.

This powerful graphic novel is short, but compelling; you really feel for Yummy. He was a criminal by the age of 11, but still completely a child. He was used and abused by almost everyone who entered his life, and his loyalty to his chosen family, his gang, only led to betrayal. In a situation as horrific as Yummy's, it's hard to blame him for his actions... yet an innocent girl was dead and he shot her. So how is that not his fault?

Oh, and did I mention that this is a true story? Robert "Yummy" Sandifer really did live in Chicago and this incident happened in 1994. While the topic of this story is mature and could be hard to handle for some youth, the pictures and description of events are appropriate even for younger teens. I would recommend this to teens who want true stories, reluctant readers who aren't afraid of the topics covered within, and teens who like gritty street stories.

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