What They Found: Love on 145th Street

Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
What They Found: Love on 145th Street Book Poster Image
Powerful, intense short stories of love in the inner city.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 2+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

The author gives readers a lot to think about: Are we all really born with the same chances in life? Is the difference between right and wrong always obvious? What personal strengths or characteristics are necessary to persevere in tough situations?

Positive Messages

Explores how loves blossoms in a variety of ways, even in the most difficult situations.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The characters struggle to show love and caring despite often desperate situations

Violence

Mentions of child abuse, fighting, gang initiation, a knife fight, and a stabbing in the eye; several people have or seek guns; a beating with a pool cue; IEDs and snipers in Afghanistan; a young man is killed in battle.

Sex

References to making love, homosexuality, a naked girl tries (unsuccessfully) to seduce a boy, teen pregnancy, a teen has sex with an adult (not described).

Language

One use of "p---y" to mean a weakling. Muslims are referred to as "rag heads," which is compared to the N word.

Consumerism

One mention of Armani.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

References to drugs and drug abuse including crack and marijuana; teens are stoned and addicted. Some cigarette smoking. But this behavior is not glamorized; it's used to show how difficult the world these characters inhabit is.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that these are stories about life in the inner city and in Afghanistan. There is plenty of violence, sex, and drugs, though nothing is described, just referred to -- and the intense material is really used to illustrate the tough neighborhood the protagonists inhabit. Indeed the characters in this book struggle to show love and caring despite often desperate situations. The author gives readers a lot to think about: Are we all really born with the same chances in life? Is the difference between right and wrong always obvious? What personal strengths or characteristics are necessary to persevere in tough situations?

User Reviews

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Teen, 14 years old Written byMonserrath March 3, 2009

WHAT A GREAT BOOK

WELL ITS STRATED BY A BOOK REPORT SO I PICKED A BOOK I STRARED TO READ IT IT WAS A GREAT BOOKED. i READ LIKE 3 TIMES ALREADY I DID GREAT ON THE BOOK REPORT KNO... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written bynappyhead09 January 13, 2009

What's the story?

In a series of related short stories that mostly take place in one neighborhood in Harlem, but also follow one character to battle in Afghanistan, this companion volume to 145th Street explores how loves blossoms in a variety of ways, even in the most difficult situations. Some examples: a very young girl struggles to care for her sick mother and even younger brother; a hardened street thug can open up when helping disabled children, but not with the girl he loves; and a teen considers holding up an old woman to buy his son a birthday present.

Is it any good?

Even though these are short stories, there's an emotional depth to them that is, at times, breathtaking. Veteran author Walter Dean Myers is interested in the many variations of love -- parents and children, friends and relations, siblings. Only in some of these stories does "love" mean romantic love. Even installments about men and women (or boys and girls) are more about the caring than the romance, and the many ways that caring shows itself.

Unlike authors who awkwardly try to reproduce street dialect in a vain attempt to seem authentic, Myers can make his characters real and vivid without swearing, and include the realities of sex, drugs, and violence without wallowing in them or resorting to graphic descriptions. He has been writing, and winning awards, for a long time now, and this book shows both the heart of a dyed-in-the-wool humanist, and the confidence that comes only with experience.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about short story collections. What makes them fun to read -- or is there anything about them that makes them less compelling than a novel?

  • What other books or movies take place in the inner-city? What are the similarities that you see in those stories -- and how does this representation compare? Why do you think stories like these are important?

Book details

For kids who love love stories

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