If you're like me you read the inside of the front and back covers of a book that looks interesting. This particular book, Show and Prove's back cover says that the author, Sofia Quintero is an "Ivy League homegirl". That for me was more motivation for me to pick this book up.
Set in the South Bronx of the 1980s the book traces the events in one hot summer of two friends, Smiles and Nike. Both have family who came to the city from somewhere else and both share a love of hip-hop. Like any good coming of age story their relationship morphs over the course of the book and there are some bumps along the way.
Though the two are best friends Smiles has been doing a lot of introspection and finds that his life should be more purposeful. What this purpose is he doesn't know. As for Nike, he has all the purpose he needs with his Nike sneakers, fresh clothes and boom box. During the summer they work together at a neighborhood center and the interactions they have with each other, with the kids and with two other counselors will forever impact their lives.
As a fan of break dancing I especially liked the battle scenes in the book but the political awakening of the characters is to me even more important. Often times I hear people say that Americans aren't aware of what's going on (or at least not as aware as they should be) and that to me is disheartening. Quintero does a masterful job however of not being too preachy but still presenting her views in an accessible way. This book could be a good primer into a variety of urban issues such as race relations, urban decay, immigration, the working poor and neighborhood uplift. I highly recommend it for ages 13+.
As an added bonus, here is an interview with the author in which she talks a little about the creative process involved in writing this book.