Author: Allison van Diepen
Genre: Young adult, crime
About Snitch: A girl is branded as a snitch at her inner city high school.
Review of Snitch
"I'm going to the dance at South Bay Friday night," I said. Dad usually didn't remember those things, but I figured I'd tell him anyway.
"Have fun. Don't forget to wear a bulletproof vest."
I rolled my eyes. "It's not that bad."
"Since when is a shooting in the locker room not that bad?"
Okay, despite his adult ADD, Dad remembered some things. "That was two years ago, Dad."
"So whoever did it got arrested and charged, right?" When I shook my head, he said, "Exactly. It's a lawless culture these days."
"Yeah, well, the kid didn't die, thankfully."
"That's comforting. Forgive me if I can't wait till you get out of that shithole school." He licked the tomato sauce off his fingers. "Pardon my French."
...from pages 18-19
Julia DiVino attends an inner city high school in Brooklyn. Her mother is dead and her father is usually either working or with his girlfriend, leaving Julia to fend for herself most of the time. For years, she has managed to get along without being part of a gang but then she meets Eric, a mysterious new boy at school. Trying to protect him gets Julia branded as a snitch and suddenly joining a gang doesn't seem like such a bad idea.
My daughter, K, and I both read this book so this is a joint review.
K said she learned a lot from this book. She learned how gang initiations work (and the difference between initiating a girl versus a boy), what it means to show colours, and what sleepers are.
I thought van Diepen did an excellent job of showing that the decision to join a gang isn't always easy and that, while gangs are not good, they aren't completely evil either.
van Diepen gave depth to many characters, not just Julia and Eric. For example, Julia's father went from being mostly absent to, as K said, a full on father figure. Julia's friends had their own tough decisions to make. In a perfect world, they would have made different decisions but this was far from a perfect world.
The teenagers speak as teenagers do so there was plenty of swearing and slang. There was also a fair amount of violence, some of it quite graphic.
van Diepen taught in one of the toughest schools in Brooklyn for several years so she knows these kids and that really showed in this book. K and I both liked it and recommend it without hesitation.
Reviewed by Lynn Bornath and KB, age 15, on 29 June 2009.
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Added 30 June 2009.
Updated 07 September 2013.