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Seventeen-year-old Lil J is in a pickle when his escalating drug habit puts him in trouble with the law. His flight to what he thinks at first is a crack house may be the ticket to turn his life around, when meets "Kelly," a homeless man who uses a television and a remote control to offer Lil J some visionary wisdom, opening his mind to other possibilities for his immediate future. The subtle magical realism in this story makes for an intriguing read.-Vanessa Morris, The iSchool at Drexel University, Philadelphia (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Using both harsh realism and a dose of the fantastic, Myers (Game) introduces an inner-city teen in the jaws of a crisis: 17-year-old Lil J is holed up in an abandoned building, believed to have shot an undercover cop in a drug bust, while police officers assemble in the street below. As he searches for a way out, Lil J is stopped by Kelly, an eerily calm vagrant who invites him to "cop a squat and check yourself out on the tube." Kelly's TV not only plays scenes from Lil J's life but projects what will happen if he sticks with his current plan: suicide. Shocked, Lil J considers Kelly's question, "If you could take back one thing you did... what would it be?" Aided by Kelly's TV, Lil J revisits pivotal moments and wrestles with his fate. As expected, Myers uses street-style lingo to cover Lil J's sorry history of drug use, jail time, irresponsible fatherhood and his own childhood grief. A didn't-see-that-coming ending wraps up the story on a note of well-earned hope and will leave readers with plenty to think about. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved