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Ahgottahandleonit

Kirkus Reviews
"An existential examination of the cycle of violence."
No, Tim definitely doesn’t have a handle on it. Although he's 17, Tim will be in sophomore English again next year if he can’t pass his proficiency exam. Readers first meet the black teen with his sneaker stuck deep in fresh blacktop in a Newark park because the warning sign looks like “Danger: hot as halt” to him. There, he is easy pickings for a bully on the way to school; a mutually humiliating confrontation with a well-meaning teacher ends the day, the last one before summer. Despite trips to the gym that build his muscles and to the library that build his reading confidence, he spirals downward, unable to escape the feelings of powerlessness engendered by circumstance: learning disability, alcoholic father, distracted mother, academically successful younger sister, gangbangers all around. In his debut as a novelist, musician Mixon alternates his third-person narration among multiple characters, giving readers glancing views into the complexities of Tim’s world. Although the hostility of the white world surrounding it is acknowledged, the focus is on the personalities, almost all black, within it. Dialogue is almost physical, spit and food flying with the raw and colloquial words. By contrast, the sometimes-overexpository narration is measured, often metaphorical, as when Tim’s sister observes how “pity and its principal sidekick sadness were loafing around her dad’s dungeon like chronically obese demons.” An existential examination of the cycle of violence.
- January 15, 2017  Visit Website
School Library Journal
“A gritty novel with a relatable protagonist and lots of appeal.”
Tim’s dyslexia is making his academic success difficult. The 17-year-old needs to pass a proficiency exam in order to move on to 10th grade. On the cusp of summer, a negative interaction with a well-intentioned teacher pushes Tim to the limits. He makes dangerous decisions, especially because he isn’t receiving support from disconnected parents. During this tumultuous time, distractions are overpowering and it’s easier for Tim to fight rather than flee. His sister, uncle, and teachers are motivated to direct his energy, particularly when his actions will have long-term consequences. While the sentences are choppy and the plot loses momentum when the narrative switches to the other characters’ perspectives, the chapters are short, and rhymes, letters, and italicized scenes add depth to Tim’s experiences. Mixon has created a fully realized teenager in whom young adults will see themselves. With subjects such as bullying, gangs, retaliation, remorse, race, disability, and family all woven in, this book is worth reading and discussing in classrooms and book clubs. Larger questions and well-drawn characters will be sure to bring readers into the library looking for similar titles. VERDICT A gritty novel with a relatable protagonist and lots of appeal that will be at home in school and public libraries serving teens. Give to fans of Daniel Keyes’s Flowers for Algernon or Sapphire’s Push.
- March 1, 2017  Visit Website

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