From the Series Surviving Southside
“One Down . . . You’re Next.” Or so said the note Carmen Mendoza found in her locker. Carmen is out, loud, and proud, so the threat doesn’t faze her . . . much. Jamie was Scott King’s best friend. Jamie was also gay. Scott never imagined Jamie would kill himself. If Carmen and Scott can figure out how to get along, they’ll be an unstoppable alliance.
|Interest Level||Grade 6 - Grade 12|
|Reading Level||Grade 4|
|Publisher||Lerner Publishing Group|
|Imprint||Darby Creek ™, Lerner Digital ™|
|Number of Pages||104|
|Reading Counts! Level||4.3|
School Library Journal
“Reluctant readers of this timely and realistic novel, told in alternating chapters, will cheer on Scott and Carmen and may even be inspired to take action at their own schools to form a GSA.” —School Library Journal
“A smoothly written, accessible story of two brave and sympathetic teens who struggle to overcome odds. This volume in the Surviving Southside series is an excellent title for reluctant readers and is sure to spark discussion in GSA groups and in the classroom.” —Booklist Online
“A brief, believable and sobering look into bullying and school bureaucracies.” —Kirkus Reviews
Series Review: While fairly short and to the point, this series of low-reading-level, high-interest fiction titles are interesting to read and worth having in any teen collection. The topics covered are hard hitting, controversial, and may fill a need in most teen collections. Each title can be read alone but also manages to connect with the other titles in one way or another. In The Alliance, lesbian Carmen Mendoza is being threatened, probably by the same person who bullied football player Scott King’s best friend into suicide (before the book starts) over being gay. Both try to start a Gay-Straight Alliance separately, then are teamed up and almost succeed before school board politics interfere. The GSA story appears again, in a different way, in The Fight; which features Bella trying to take a stand against a school board policy that may have contributed to a friend killing himself partway through the story. In Overexposed, Daisy sends some explicit phone pics to her boyfriend right before they fight. Naturally, they end up all over school, her older brother tries to defend her, and the school administration steps in with their sexting policies. Finally, Full Impact demonstrates to readers the dangers of football, focusing on concussions. Arnie begins to act a bit weird, but his best friend Norval tries to blow it off. Norval does not want to ruin their friendship or Arnie’s chances at a college scholarship—until it is too late. Arnie is in the hospital, and his football and high school careers are over. Each book has strongly believable plots, well-developed characters, and relevant topics for today’s youth. While this reviewer only read four of the twelve titles in the SurvivingSouthside series, all would be worth adding in the less expensive paperback format to any teen collection.
Author: Gabriel Goodman
Gabriel Goodman is a writer living in St. Paul. He has written for previous Darby Creek series, including the Surviving Southside series and the Bareknuckle series.
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This innovative YA series is a set of high-interest urban fiction novels that’s written at a fourth-grade reading level, specifically designed for reluctant and striving readers, including those who read below grade level or are ESL/ELL View available downloads →