Monday, April 18, 2016

Liccle Bit by Alex Wheatle

Growing up as a fourteen year old is hard in any country. There are hormones, peer pressure and of course schoolwork to deal with. For Lemar his height is also a major disadvantage and he is sometimes called many nicknames (none of them complimentary) but the worst of them all is Liccle Bit ("liccle" being the Jamaican patois from of "little").

As if he didn't have enough problems, Lemar's older sister Elaine has just had a baby with Manjaro the baddest gangster around much to his parents' chagrin. Even though Lemar knows he shouldn't associate with Manjaro (his friends and family repeatedly warn him) he doesn't have the courage to say no when Manjaro asks him for a favor. That's when the trouble starts.

Wheatle's prose is razor sharp and Lemar's descriptions of his estate (known as housing projects here in the US) convey all the dreariness and hopelessness the residents feel. Lemar's friends to me served as both comedic foils and the differing sides of his conscience as they gave him advice on everything from family matters to matters of the heart.

I am going to be making many interlibrary loan requests for Wheatle's books (he's been writing for some time now) as they are a great perspective on  life outside North America and particularly on life for young people of color in London. I recommend this book for tween and teen readers worldwide as it shows how the power to choose rests within every individual.

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