|Kurzbeschreibung||Ali hat sich fast sechzehn Jahre von allem Ärger und den miesen Typen in seiner Gegend, Brooklyn, ferngehalten. Schon aus Angst vor seiner Mutter, die, was den Umgang ihres Sohnes betrifft, die Null-Toleranz-Politik vertritt. Dann ergibt sich die Gelegenheit, mit seinem Freund Noodles und dessen Bruder Needles nicht nur so richtig cool zu sein, sondern auch mit den großen Jungs zu spielen. Gefährlich, wenn man selbst jedem Streit aus dem Weg geht, der Freund nur eine Riesenklappe, aber sonst nicht viel hat, und der dritte durch sein Tourette-Syndrom unberechenbar ist, sobald er sein Strickzeug nicht parat hat. In Bed Stuy, New York, a small misunderstanding can escalate into having a price on your head-even if you're totally clean. This gritty, triumphant debut that Publishers Weekly calls "a funny and rewarding read" captures the heart and the hardship of life for an urban teen.|
A lot of the stuff that gives my neighborhood a bad name, I don't really mess with. The guns and drugs and all that, not really my thing.
Nah, not his thing. Ali's got enough going on, between school and boxing and helping out at home. His best friend Noodles, though. Now there's a dude looking for trouble-and, somehow, it's always Ali around to pick up the pieces. But, hey, a guy's gotta look out for his boys, right? Besides, it's all small potatoes; it's not like anyone's getting hurt.
And then there's Needles. Needles is Noodles's brother. He's got a syndrome, and gets these ticks and blurts out the wildest, craziest things. It's cool, though: everyone on their street knows he doesn't mean anything by it.
Yeah, it's cool...until Ali and Noodles and Needles find themselves somewhere they never expected to be...somewhere they never should've been-where the people aren't so friendly, and even less forgiving.
|Leseprobe||When I Was The Greatest 1|
"Okay, I got one. Would you rather live every day for the rest of your life with stinky breath, or lick the sidewalk for five minutes?" Noodles asked. He turned and looked at me with a huge grin on his face because he knew this was a tough one.
"It depends. Does gum or mints work?"
"Nope. Just shit breath, forever!" He busted out laughing.
I thought for a second. "Well, if I licked the ground, I mean, that might be the grossest thing I could ever do, but when the five minutes was up, I could just clean my mouth out." In my head I was going back and forth between the two options. "But if I got bad breath, forever, then I might not ever be able to kiss the ladies. So, I guess I gotta go with licking the ground, man."
Just saying it made me queasy.
"Freakin' disgusting," Needles said, frowning, looking out at the sidewalk. "But I would probably do the same thing."
A sick black SUV came flying down the block. The stereo was blasting, but the music was all drowned out by the loud rattle of the bass, bumping, shaking the entire back of the truck.
"Aight, aight, I got another one," Noodles said as the truck passed. He shook his soda can to see if anything was left in it. "Would you rather trade your little sister for a million bucks, or for a big brother, if that big brother was Jay-Z?"
"Easy. Neither," I said, plain.
"Come on, man, you gotta pick one."
"Nope. I wouldn't trade her."
Another car came cruising down the street. This time, a busted-up gray hooptie with music blasting just as loud as the fresh SUV's.
"So you tellin' me, you wouldn't trade Jazz for a million bucks?"
"You wouldn't wanna be Jay-Z's lil brother?" Noodles looked at me with a side eye like I was lying.
"Of course, but I wouldn't trade Jazz for it!" I said, now looking at him crazy. "She's my sister, man, and I don't know how you and your brother roll, but for me, family is family, no matter what."
- - -
Family is family. You can't pick them, and you sure as hell can't give them back. I've heard it a zillion times because it's my mom's favorite thing to say whenever she's pissed off at me or my little sister, Jazz. It usually comes after she yells at us about something we were supposed to do but didn't. And with my mom, yelling ain't just yelling. She gives it everything she's got, and I swear it feels like her words come down heavy and hard, beating on us just as bad as a leather strap. She's never spanked us, but she always threatens to, and trust me, that's just as bad. It happens the same every time. The shout, then the whole thing about family being family, and how you can't pick them or give them back