By Bernie Alie, Kennebunk Free Library

Through the eyes of a fictional protagonist, Neri tells the true story of an 11-year-old gang member. Although the tale is of a gang killing, there is no clear villain here. Through Roger’s telling, we see Yummy’s life before the shooting, leading to the choice to turn to a gang to make him a man. We see his toughness, his life on the streets and his youthful need for a teddy bear. While trying to impress gang mates, he aimed at rivals, missed and killed an innocent 14-year-old girl. A citywide hunt for him was unsuccessful. Just when his youthful need for comfort nearly led to turning himself in, 2 members of his own gang killed him. Using reports from The Chicago Sun-Times, Neri includes the media coverage, political posturing and repercussions of both deaths on the neighborhood, as seen by a peer. DuBurke’s black and white drawings are authentic, full of emotion and fitting for the grittiness of the tale. A whirlwind ride through inner city life. Author notes provide historical details.