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Yummy by G. Neri

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Yummy: 08/09/11

cover art

Yummy by G. Neri won the 2010 Cybils award in the young adult graphic novels. It's a fictionalized retelling of the events that lead up to the death of 11 year old Robert "Yummy" Sandifer in Chicago.

It covers events that happened in 1994 and made the cover of Time Magazine. This all happened at a time that I was busy finishing up college and living in a town with exactly one over the air television station. In other words, I only heard of Yummy in passing so the graphic novel was mostly new to me.

The story is told from the point of view of a fictional classmate, Roger. He goes through Yummy's childhood and how he has come to live with his grandmother, a woman overwhelmed by a houseful of children. Being small for his age and overlooked at home, Yummy acts rough and becomes rough.

Most of the book takes places between the time when Yummy on his initiation into the local gang kills a neighborhood girl with no ties to gangs. At first the neighborhood tries to protect Yummy but as the investigation intensifies they have to give him up.

All of this is told with gritty black and white line illustrations and sparse text. There is some speculation by Roger as to the whys behind Yummy's short life but mostly it is an account of what happened.

Were this book completely fiction I would be more critical of what it portrays. Why do so many of the stories of inner city neighborhoods focus on the crime and the violence. There are other stories to be told from there that don't involve guns, crimes, killings or gangs.

Three stars.

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