In the never-ending quest to find new and diverse stories that will appeal to teen readers I have Down By Law by NiNi Simone. Set in the 1980’s, this story follows Isis Carter as she navigates life, love and family with the knowledge and attitude of a survivor.
Hard won knowledge is often skewed with a perspective of us versus them, and it is clear that Isis uses her knowledge and attitude as a shield: get them before they can hurt you. A touch of honest grit highlights Isis: she is justifiably angry and disillusioned with the life she knows: a brother murdered, a mother bailing out, a father who is less present and concerned…that anger and need for acceptance still exist, despite trying to pretend they don’t. While the choices aren’t always the best, there is a clear reason for Isis to make those connections, reasons that start to change as she learns that other paths could be available.
It’s a difficult book to rate – on one hand I wanted to see Isis make better choices for her life, and could see early on how some of those choices could lead to no good. I worried for her, and I kept thinking that something better was available. But, it wasn’t necessarily so: she needed to see and learn for herself, find her own path to realize that she needed to change things up. While I could see how many of the choices were between bad and worse, I couldn’t help but feel the honesty in the situations and the clarity with which Simone shows that divide – not every opportunity is seen, let alone available to everyone.
While this didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat – there was enough angst, drama and intrigue with Isis and her life to keep me reading through the last pages. A good book for someone looking to glimpse at another person’s life – a life that is very different from their own.
Title: Down by Law
Series: The Throwback Diaries #1
Genre: Teen Reads, Urban, Coming of Age
Published by: Dafina
Published on: 28 July, 2015
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
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Lesson #1: You come for me, I come back even harder for you. Fair exchange. No robberies.
Isis Carter got schooled early on in surviving the streets. When some girls put a beatdown on her, she took back what was hers. When her mom, Queenie, bailed on Isis’ abusive father, Isis fought to stay strong. And when her dad gets killed, sixteen-year-old Isis buries the hurt by looking out for herself—and creepin’ with bad boy Supreme…until a run-in with the law shatters Isis’ world, threatens to destroy her future, and brings Queenie back home.
Now the only person Isis can rely on is the mother she is too angry to trust, much less forgive. Even her new boo, Ke’Ron, is working hard to make Isis feel safe and show her he’s worthy of more than friendship. But when Isis lets her guard down, will she be given a second chance to get her life straight—or will it cost her everything?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.