Moore, Wes and Shawn Goodman. This Way Home. New York: Delacorte Press, 2015. 978-0-375-99019-9. 245 p. $17.99. Gr. 9 and up.
Elijah Thomas is a high school basketball star, and he and his two best friends are competing in the neighborhood adult league championships for prize money as well as recognition. They become entangled with a violent gang, Blood Street Nation, when the gang leader offers to supply them with new shoes and jerseys. When the boys, with encouragement from their mothers, decide to not wear the jerseys that bear the gang logo, the gang retaliates by killing one of the trio of best friends. The contrast and conflict are palpable – Elijah is grief stricken at the same time as he should be celebrating for not only winning the tournament but also for being recruited by a university basketball coach. The side story is one of Elijah connecting with and learning from a retired army officer who teaches him responsibility in his father’s absence. THOUGHTS: Although several elements in the story line are unrealistic, including the teenage boys’ acquiescing to their mothers’ wishes and the ending with the demise of the gang, I would recommend this book to teenage students who claim to hate reading, particularly to urban youth who will recognize the neighborhood violence that threatens their life dreams.
Realistic Fiction; Urban Annette Sirio, Pittsburgh Obama Academy of International Studies