Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty by G. Neri

Thursday, February 17, 2011


Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty I first came across this title at Helen's blog. I had never heard of this book before, nor the incident narrated in it. Moreover, the title of the book - Yummy - sounded too weird, too out-of-place to me. I could tell from the cover that this book had no relation to food, whatever the title. Yummy is the nickname of the protagonist of this book, Robert Sandifer, because he loved sweets.

This graphic novel was written by G. Neri and illustrated by Randy DuBurke. I thought the narration and the illustration effectively communicated the guns and gangs problem in the shady law-crippled areas. The setting is in Chicago actually, but it could have been any other place - don't we regularly hear about gang crimes in LA, NY, and many countries around the world?

Yummy is just 11. He has already been recruited into a gang. He wants to impress the older members of his gang by displaying toughness and proving that he can do any kind of work. The US law couldn't convict kids - they could go to juvenile prison and walk out free once they turned 21. (I don't know what the law is now, but that's what it was during Yummy's days). I still think wasting your youth in jail is a far more tragic punishment than being in jail forever, but the gang members used that law to their advantage by recruiting younger kids to do their dirty work, knowing that they wouldn't be arrested forever.

Yummy is really short, hence called a shortie by many of his "friends" and gang members. A tough shortie, because he could get really nasty and tough if he wanted to. He didn't like being taken advantage of, and if possible, he would get his revenge too. Being obsessed about getting higher up in the gang hierarchy (as he was promised as bait to commit crimes), Yummy was out on a mission, when he aims wrong and shoots the wrong person - a girl named Shavon Dean, who just happened to be in the wrong place at that time. When you stop to think about it, it's really tragic, not even filmy-tragic. A girl who has no connection to gangs, who just wants to work in a beauty parlor someday because she could style hair really well, is killed. A boy, whose voice has probably not even broken yet, and didn't even train to aim properly is a murderer. He comes from a fractured family, so there's no one really to help him. And now the gang members would be mad because of the law officials who'll be coming to investigate.

Yummy shooting Shavon

What I loved about this book is how Yummy is portrayed. Coming from a troubled home, his confusion is very obvious. His parents are in prison, and he was left in the care of his granny, who was also looking after (if that could be said) a whole other bunch of grandkids, sometimes up to 20. Yummy could disappear for days from her house, and she wouldn't notice. When he wants to appear tough, you could see it clearly in the drawings. In fact, his expressions could even scare you if you were looking at him closely. And at other times, he would be the 11-year old kid that he actually is, who loves the usual boy stuff and yearns to be loved and accepted.

Yummy calling granny

This book was a really fast read, but it left me thinking for a long time. This is one of those cases where you never know who is to blame. Far from being dangerous, the fact that a kid can easily walk around with a gun is simply tragic, mindblowing and unbelievable. I've always been against liberal gun laws, and I can't imagine changing my viewpoint, whatever anyone tells me about most buyers being responsible, and just intending to use it for hunting or for safety. But of course, if someone wants a gun, they will get it, however tight the laws are.

I borrowed this book from the library.


5 comments:

Ms. Dawn said...

I work at an inner-city (Indianapolis) public school. Your review sounded like it could be the story of a number of the kids I work with and the tragedy was something that could've been taken off the front page of local newspaper. I have a feeling this book would resonate with a lot of kids where I work. I'm going to recommend it to our school librarian!

Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness) said...

I'm glad this is a good book that makes you think. I have it on my shelf, but haven't made time to read it yet.

Medeia Sharif said...

I've seen this and I'm interested in reading it.

Have a great weekend.

Athira / Aths said...

The illustration is certainly well-done! I think the idea of using a narrator to find out more about Yummy worked well.

Athira / Aths said...

Thank you!

I hope you enjoy this book!