ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Published March 5, 2013. Christy Ottaviano Books (Henry Holt & Co.) 312 pp.
In this gritty, true-to-life urban tale, we learn of love, survival, pain, as well as the power of friendship and resilience through the life of 17-year-old Francisco and his best friend Vincent. Francisco has the opportunity to leave the grit and poverty of Spanish Harlem behind when he gets accepted to a prestigious high school in upstate New York. Despite knowing he’ll be separated from Reignbow, the love of his life, Francisco accepts the challenge, trying to persevere through loneliness and racism while hoping to make a new life for himself. Caught between two worlds, Francisco struggles to fit in and figure out his place in his world.
Meanwhile, unable to accept that the way of life he’s always known with Francisco by his side will change, Vincent decides to do everything he can to get his best friend to return to the hood. He is determined to make Francisco return out of guilt for his safety so throws himself into the life of a gangbanger, finding out too late that life in the streets is not what he’d envisioned. Both boys want to make something of their lives, but their neighborhood, feelings, thoughts and upbringings take them down very different paths.
“When we wuz famous” is extremely realistic, sparing no punches in its narrative, and will draw in urban fiction fans aged 14 and older.