Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
Meet Theresa Anderson, known to her friends as Tee-Ay. Alan Lawrence Sitomer has captured Tee-Ay's struggle to survive high school and make it to college, and at the same time deal with some serious issues -- drive-by shootings, discrimination, and poverty. HIP-HOP HIGH SCHOOL presents big-city teens with big-city problems in a realistic, yet positive and inspiring story.
As a sophomore, Tee-Ay is finding it difficult to measure up to her older brother, Andre. (His story is told in Sitomer's HOOPSTER.) He is attending Stanford, and Tee-Ay thinks it would be great to be accepted at USC someday so she could tease Andre when USC kicks Stanford's butt in football. Attending a top-notch university seems like a pretty lofty goal, but Tee-Ay is willing to fight for it.
The story takes Tee-Ay and her fellow classmates through 10th, 11th, and 12th grade to graduation. Along the way she watches one friend, Cee-Saw, become pregnant and drop out, and another almost lose sight of her goals due to family obligations. One positive force in Tee-Ay's life is Devon, who helps her tap into her true potential as they study together for the dreaded SAT -- their ticket to a brighter future.
Sitomer uses hip-hop language to create vivid characters that grab the reader and carry them through right to the end. Big-city teens will be able to relate to the situations, and more sheltered teens will be transported to a world beyond their own.
Note: Although this is listed above as grades 9+, many of my 8th-grade students have read and enjoyed it. In fact, when several of them saw me reading it, they immediately commented about how much they liked it. So many other students are requesting it now, we will probably need to hold some sort of lottery to determine the next reader.