Not many people realize how difficult life can be. Our society claims to make an effort to help children avoid the trauma and difficulties suffered by Yummy yet many young ones fall through the cracks of the system — a system that is very much broke at times. Greg Neri seems to understand the struggles of todays youth and calls attention to the challenges of teenage life.
Some students are all too familiar with the pains of life well prior to ever stepping foot in a classroom of any kind. In the case of Robert “Yummy” Sandifer, life was a challenge from a very young age. Many children try to follow the same path as Yummy. These troubled students turn to crime and gangs to find acceptance that they cannot or do not find elsewhere. I truly feel that if more students understood the trials that Yummy endured and the immense desire he had for a since of self worth that would be much more likely to choose a different path to finding the same emotional support that Yummy searched for in the shadows of Chicago.
I feel that my students would all benefit from reading this book. Many of my students have issues at home. Several have been arrested and are in gangs by the time they are in junior high. At the same time, there are other students in my school that are completely oblivious to the lives of their classmates and how similar the lives of some of their classmates are to that of Yummy.
I feel this is a great book for every student. All reading levels would likely digest this book very quickly because it is a graphic novel. There are several lessons that can be learned from this story. I can imagine this book leading to a large research project. Students could explore the topic of child abuse and the link to criminal activity. They could also explore the motivation behind either physical or social bullying. It would also be interesting to see the students discuss Yummy’s funeral and why so many people can to view the body of a young man that had fallen through the cracks of society. This book would also be great for teaching writing dialect.