Monday, October 23, 2017

Review: Ahgottahandleonit

Title: Ahgottahandleonit
Author: Donovan Mixon
Publisher: Cinco Puntos Press

“Tim's a struggling black kid on the mean streets of Newark.
How far can he run? Where can he hide?”

What is innocence? Where does it go? Tim doesn't read as well as his classmates in an inner-city Newark high school. He's got good street cred, though, riffing strange rap-rhymes and running like the wind. He's packed into a three-flat with his mother, sister and Uncle Gentrale. His father, a drunk, recently walked out on the family, wanting some "freedom." He says, "Ahgottahandleonit, son." He doesn't. Nor does Tim. He's a sophomore, already two years behind in school. He'll be a sophomore again if he doesn't pass his proficiency exam. He wants to do what is right, but anger boils deep inside him. The last day of school before summer, Tim slaps Mr. Jones, the one teacher who has wanted to help. He doesn't know why. It was just there, a rage born of some dark history. Uncle Gentrale tries to explain, some crazy shit about living back down south. Marie reaches out to him for love, but that doesn't work either. In a fight with some gang bangers, the rage boils over and Tim slams Chucky in the head with a rock. Chucky dies. Tim steals his phone. He carries it, like an albatross, throughout the summer—wanting to run, to hide, to speak truth, to be free. Maybe Mr. Jones will understand. Tim wants his life to matter.

I randomly picked this book during a weekly trip to the library, read the synopsis, and checked out the book. This book is real, real issues, real concepts, real problems, and real life. I truly enjoyed this book. Besides doesn’t the cover just make you stop? LOL

When I first started reading this book, it was difficult to follow, there was a lot of re-reading. Tim is an emotional young man, who is trying to pass high school. But he's two years older than everyone in his grade due to being held back twice. We learn that Tim's dad left the family, and his mom works nonstop to keep the family afloat. We get to see how Tim balances trying to be there for his family, and staying out of trouble. He has issues the local gang members, and which leads to Tim harming someone. To see the guilt eating away at Tim but also giving a sense of worth is something to read about. Donovan Mixon was able to incorporate poetry into Tim’s story, and we see how Tim’s father can’t be a father due to his childhood. Being able to hear about the background of Tim’s dad was a plus for me. We see that Tim’s father has not dealt with things from his childhood, therefore he cannot be a husband or father or brother. When it becomes too much he leaves, he would rather drink then face the truth of his past. I loved this book because I could relate to the struggles Tim, and his family went through. While reading this book, you just want to see Tim to win. Anything that could go wrong does, and there are times that his guilt almost destroyed him. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this book, I loved the poetry, and characters. 5/5

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