You Don't even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys
You Don't even Know Me: Stories and Poems About Boys
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Annotation: A collection of nine short stories and thirteen poems that offer insight into the emotions, experiences, and values of African American males.
Genre: Short stories
Catalog Number: #5432668
Format: Paperback
All Formats: Search
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Hyperion
Copyright Date: 2010
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 195 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-423-10017-4
ISBN 13: 978-1-423-10017-1
Dewey: Fic
Dimensions: 21 cm.
Language: English
ALA Booklist
In a lively companion to Flake's Who Am I without Him? (2007), teen boys speak in stories and free-verse poems about love, fear, sex, fun, anger, sorrow, and growing up black today. Some of the strongest pieces are about love between sons and father figures, including a stepdad, grandfather, and father-in-law. Homelessness is sometimes a threat, as is the fear of dying young, amid all the violence in the hood, and one speaker talks about the responsibility he feels to help younger kids get over "getting even." In contrast, a suburban kid talks about class issues. Occasionally, the entries feel therapeutic, with messages about HIV/AIDS and suicide prevention (hotlines and Web sites are appended). Best of all is the candor about hardship and the celebration of the diversity and dynamics in the characters' communities.The immediate voices, with no invective or overt sex, are well-suited for readers' theater and for sharing everywhere.
Horn Book
This volume includes both lucid short stories and poems, some of which have echoes of freestyle rap. The subtitle could be more specific; these short pieces are decidedly about troubled, urban boys. Flake has readers spend time with three-dimensional young males who contract HIV, wear gang colors, or live up to teachers' low expectations, but she never allows stereotypes to overtake humanity.
Kirkus Reviews
Poetry and fiction come together as Flake examines the world through young African-American male voices. Tyler's tale of constant female attention segues into La'Ron's heartfelt letter to his uncle disclosing his HIV status. Harvey walks the streets with his obese father while Eric heads out into North Philadelphia in the brutal summer heat. Tow-Kaye is 17 and marrying his pregnant girlfriend, while Jeffery is 15 and being seduced by an older woman. Similar voices and unremarkable vignettes blend together into an afterschool special of sorts—a disappointment from such a powerful and moving author. Many of the poems have pop and James's diary record of suicide, emotional trauma and abuse has some resonance, but they can't support the weaker works. A very short resource list offers contact information for call lines regarding abuse, pregnancy, suicide and HIV. A rare letdown from an otherwise excellent author. (Short stories/poetry. YA)
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up Ten portraits interspersed with poetry draw readers into the lives of a variety of African-American teens. In "Getting Even," a boy copes with his grandfather's death and the desire to find who killed him. Jeffery, 16, gets thrown out of his Auntie's house with nowhere to go. Eric goes against his dad's command to stay home with his siblings and instead finds a girl, some fun, and some trouble; Justin writes in his journal about death, suicide, and sexual abuse. La'Ron is too afraid to tell his father he is HIV positive, so he writes him a letter, and his father writes back. The concluding story, "Pretty Mothers Are a Problem," is a chilling portrait of 15-year-old Jeffrey, seduced by a neighbor, and the devastation faced by her daughter. These complex and thought-provoking stories won't disappoint. Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
Voice of Youth Advocates
This memorable collection of short stories and poems offers a glimpse into the urban lives of several African American boys. Tow-Kaye is marrying his pregnant girlfriend at seventeen, feeling both anticipation and dread. Ron struggles to compose a painful letter to his uncle, admitting that he has become infected with HIV since his arrival in the city. Jeffrey, thrown out of yet another relativeÆs home and wondering where he will live, expresses a sentiment that any one of the teen boys featured here could easily utter, ô[D]oing right comes out wrong no matter where I go.ö James meticulously plans suicide, following the self-inflicted death of his twin. The final story is a trip with Eric through the streets of North Philadelphia on the fourth of July, a colorful and dangerous place simmering with both violence and joy. Flake offers a vivid, unforgettable collection reflecting the experiences of urban African American young males. The voices ring true; these authentic characters could be sitting in any big-city classroom. The stories and poetry are quite thought provoking, particularly for readers who do not live in an urban setting. Although there are a variety of mature themes explored (teen pregnancy, relationships with older women, promiscuity, and revenge), they are not explicitly expressed and there is little profanity. This collection is recommended for reluctant readers, particularly boys. The book can be read fairly quickly, but the stories of these young men will linger with readers for much longer.ùSherrie Williams.
Word Count: 38,489
Reading Level: 3.6
Interest Level: 9-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 3.6 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 135543 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.1 / points:11.0 / quiz:Q48887
Lexile: HL520L
Guided Reading Level: Z
Fountas & Pinnell: Z

In 9 stories and 15 poems, Sharon G. Flake provides insight into the minds of a diverse group adolescent African American males. There's Tow-Kaye, getting married at age 16 to love of his life, who's pregnant. He knows it's the right thing to do, but he's scared to death. James writes in his diary about his twin brother's terrible secret, which threatens to pull James down, too. Tyler explains what it's like to be a player with the ladies. In a letter to his uncle, La'Ron confesses that he's infected with HIV. Eric takes us on a tour of North Philly on the Fourth of July, when the heat could make a guy go crazy. Still, he loves his hood. These and other unforgettable characters come to life in this collection of urban male voices. Sharon's G. Flake's talent for telling it like it is will leave readers thinking differently, feeling deeply, and definitely wanting more.

You don't even know me
Scared to death
Just say it
Gettin' even
People might not understand
Fakin' it
Dying before I'm done
Fat man walking
Stuck with me
The same old thing
I'm not supposed to
Girls make you weak
Chocolate cinnamon beige
So she's white
My hood
Words to the world
I apologize
Pretty mothers are a problem
Open your eyes.

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