23. “Scorpions”, Walter Dean Myers

I like Walter Dean Myers. Who else was writing young, gay Latino guys in 1988? I’m not sure if he intended Tito to be gay or if he didn’t like the girls he knew, rather than not liking girls, period, but I prefer the second. Obviously.

So, Jamal’s older brother, Randy, is in prison in connection with a robbery turned murder. Randy was the leader of the Scorpions and has sent word that he wants twelve-year-old Jamal to take over the gang for him until Randy is out of prison. Jamal is afraid of the other guys in the gang, who are older than he is, but he has his friend Tito to watch his back. And he has the gun that Randy’s friend, Mack, gave him.

Jamal is afraid of the gun, but he can see that other people are afraid of it, too, and that makes him feel powerful. Tito wants him to throw the gun away, but Jamal is tired of being bullied at school and is afraid of trying to run a gang without a gun. Anyway, he needs the money to help his mama to get Randy out of jail. So he keeps the gun under his family’s couch cushion. Until the day tensions within the gang come to a head and he fears he’ll have to use it…

Page count: 216
Total: 13,954

Up next: Harriet the Spy, Slam, Somewhere in the Darkness, Monster.

I should probably read a grown-up book sometime.

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