Safe Passage

By Kirkus Reviews

In this stand-alone companion to the award-winning Yummy (2010), a teenage boy learns that sometimes you can’t go around a problem: You have to go through it.

Darius, a Black 15-year-old living in the South Side of Chicago, wants one thing—a safe place to live with his unemployed stepdad and younger half sister, Cissy, following the death of his mother. When his best friend, Booger, shares a plan to get quick, easy money, Darius reluctantly agrees. Despite Cissy’s disapproval, the boys skip school to take a bus across town to investigate an armored truck that got into a traffic accident; they hope to grab some of the money they expect to find flying around. Things get out of control when Cissy sneaks along to keep an eye on them, and Booger brags about their journey on social media, putting targets on their backs. They have to use their street smarts and follow the survival rules Darius’ stepfather taught them for navigating territories controlled by microgangs to try to make it safely back home. In this fast-paced story, each decision the characters make is critical. Despite the difficult situation the kids are in, Neri provides small pockets of hope and light. Brame’s evocative digital black-and-white illustrations bring the setting to life, emphasizing the emotional intensity and high stakes.

Somber with a sprinkling of optimism and a firm grounding in unconditional familial love.