When We Wuz Famous
When We Wuz Famous
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Annotation: Novel adaptation of the author's feature film, "Up with me."
Catalog Number: #5364526
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
No other formats available
Special Formats: High Low High Low
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition Date: 2013
Pages: 312 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8050-9452-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-8050-9452-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2012027733
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
Reignbow and Francisco are in love. Their romance, though, may not be able to survive Francisco's departure to an upstate boarding school where he has a scholarship, or the problems created by Francisco's troublemaking cousin Vincent. Takoudes' novel is an expansion of his award-winning independent film Up with Me. True to his screenwriting roots, Takoudes is best when working with dialogue. His characters' voices ring true, switching effortlessly between street slang and the drawl of wealth, possibly because the original script was crafted with the help of teens from Spanish Harlem. Unfortunately, the narration that fills in the dialogue suffers from too much explanation of characters' motivations and feelings. While some readers may feel as though Takoudes is pushing a message at them, though, others will identify easily with the struggles of the three troubled characters at the heart of this gritty, fast-paced urban fiction.
Horn Book
Friends Francisco, Reignbow, and Vincent are the core of the Kaos Krew. But when Francisco leaves Spanish Harlem for boarding school, the Krew falls apart, and so does Vincent's life. What will Francisco sacrifice to stand by his friend? An omniscient narrator tells an intense (and somewhat unrelenting) story of friendship and love in this adaptation of Takoudes's film, Up with Me.
Kirkus Reviews
Puerto Rican senior basketballer Francisco Ortiz can't escape the past. At first glance, he seems to have it all: a smart and sassy girlfriend named Reignbow, a sports scholarship to an elite boarding school in upstate New York, supportive parents and a cadre of cool friends in his East Harlem neighborhood. His closest buddy, Vincent, however, has a chip on his shoulder that he can't seem to shake. Things go awry one fall weekend when Francisco comes home from school, and Vincent gets arrested for a petty crime. Things escalate from there, and drama, lies and murder all ensue as Francisco is forced to decide between his own life and Vincent's. Takoudes' first teen novel, adapted from his indie film, Up with Me, moves quickly with sharp, true-to-life dialogue, well-drawn characters and a lively NYC backdrop that's full of both life and poverty. Readers learn right from the start that there's been a murder, and the story then moves back six months to tell how it all happened. This structure mostly works. The scenes in NYC feel much more fleshed out than the ones that take place upstate, where the plot takes some unlikely twists that don't jell with Francisco's character. That won't keep readers from speeding through this quick read, however, or from picking up some carefully injected Puerto Rican culture. A fresh new voice in teen fiction. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Publishers Weekly
Based on Takoudes-s 2008 indie film, Up with Me, this hard-hitting novel follows three teenagers in New York City-s Harlem, struggling to survive inside and outside the neighborhood. Francisco has been given the chance of a lifetime with a senior-year scholarship to a prestigious boarding school upstate. He shines on the basketball court there, but he doesn-t score as well in academics or at finding loyal friends. While Francisco suffers bouts of homesickness, his cousin Vincent flounders back in N.Y.C. without Francisco to bail him out of trouble, and Francisco-s girlfriend, Reignbow, has her hands full trying to take care of her wheelchair-bound mother. Bad decisions, missed opportunities, and betrayals lead to a tangled mess of hardships for all. The question remains whether love, forgiveness, and hope are strong enough to mend broken hearts and friendships. As Takoudes conveys major and minor tragedies, he poignantly captures Francisco-s isolation at school, Vincent-s desperation, and Reignbow-s mixture of regret and anger. Intense and determinedly realistic, this story will leave a lasting impression on readers. Ages 14-up. Agent: Ryan Fischer-Harbage, Fischer-Harbage Agency. (Mar.)

School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up&12; Francisco, a promising high school student and talented basketball player, is sure he can rise above his limited options in Spanish Harlem when he is granted a scholarship to attend an elite, upstate boarding school. Pressure builds as he struggles to remain true to himself and his background in this strange new environment, and he finds that escaping his past isn't easy when he still has ties back home. Within the book's first few pages, readers know that the story ends with someone being shot dead, and the murder mystery drives the plot. The series of bad decisions that spirals into tragedy is revealed through multiple perspectives, including that of Francisco, his devoted girlfriend, Reignbow, and his troubled best friend, Vincent. This novel is based on the author's award-winning movie, Up with Me (2008), and the prose is reminiscent of a screenplay: straightforward, with an engaging sense of immediacy. Complex issues such as friendship, loyalty, identity, and class disparity are explored in varying depth. An occasionally meandering plot and extraneous characters dilute the story's overall impact, but the characters' constant strife will keep teens interested. The true star of the show is perhaps the setting: Spanish Harlem is painted vividly, with harshness and beauty intertwined. Teens will appreciate the hopeful yet ambiguous ending; Takoudes chooses authenticity over a pat resolution and doesn't downplay the consequences of regrettable choices. Purchase where urban fiction is popular.&12; Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA
Word Count: 61,261
Reading Level: 4.0
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.0 / points: 9.0 / quiz: 157109 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.7 / points:16.0 / quiz:Q60145
Lexile: HL650L

Are you ready to hear it?
Let’s begin by saying what this story is not. For starters, it’s not crap. That’s not to say this story is necessarily any good—it’s just not packed with lies. It’s not about a bunch of perfect-looking teenagers who dance around in designer outfits, stage pillow fights, and deliver the perfect, rip-roaring comeback to every insult. Nope. This is a story about real kids. Actual kids. Kids you like, kids you love, kids you hate—the types of kids you know.
Now, technically, you would have to call this a love story, as much as it might make your skin crawl. But it’s not the kind of love story you’re thinking of. No one buys chocolate valentines for anyone in this story. So if you’re looking for that heartwarming (and stomach-curdling) scene where the varsity boy surprises his blond girlfriend with a bouquet of flowers and balloons on her birthday after she’d positively feared that he’d forgotten, then it’s time to put this book down and start reading another one.
That scene is not in this book.
In fact, this is the kind of story where the boy actually does forget it’s his girl’s birthday, because he’s an idiot, and she really needs to dump his ass, and all her friends tell her so. But she won’t. Because she’s being an idiot too. Because that’s what happens in real life. The subtitle of this book should be The Stupid Stuff That People Do, and Why They Keep Doing It.
Another thing: Don’t expect the characters you’re about to meet to do things like learn important lessons in life. This isn’t some CW television show where the characters get to learn about themselves just in the nick of time before the show has to cut to a commercial that’s selling you fabric softener.
No, this book is about real love. And the thing about real love is that it hurts. You don’t get real love without going through real problems first. Infatuation ain’t love. Great sex ain’t love. Flowers on your birthday ain’t love. Those things are nice, but they aren’t true love. The thing about true love is that you have to get through a lot of junk—lies, pain, dishonesty—and then you have to somehow survive it all before you can get to the good part: the love that lasts.
So are you ready to hear it?
Oh, and one more thing. This book is a bit strange, too, because for a love story, it starts in the least romantic place in the world: a police station. And for a love story, it starts with the least romantic topic of conversation you can imagine: murder.

Text copyright © 2013 by Greg Takoudes

Excerpted from When We Wuz Famous by Greg Takoudes
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Francisco Ortiz, a handsome straight-A student and gifted basketball player from the barrio, wins a full scholarship to an elite boarding school. His future seems promising. But soon after Francisco moves into the dorm, his new classmates assume the worst of him: they pepper him with questions about drugs and gangs. It's all so confusing, made even more complicated when Francisco realizes that back home in the hood, he no longer fits in, though his friends still rely on him to solve their problems. In a desperate attempt to help one of his homies, Francisco makes a terrible decision and becomes everything he fought so hard to rise against. In When We Wuz Famous , Greg Takoudes has written a riveting novel about breaking down stereotypes, crossing boundaries, and clinging to where you come from.

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