Book Review: Yummy by G. Neri

by Notorious Spinks on 03.31.2011

yummy by g. neri

In August of 1994, 11-year-old Robert “Yummy” Sandifer—nicknamed for his love of sweets—fired a gun at a group of rival gangmembers, accidentally killing a neighborhood girl, Shavon Dean. Police searched Chicago’s southside for three days before finding Yummy dead in a railway tunnel, killed by members of the drug gang he’d sought to impress. The story made such an impact that Yummy appeared on the cover of TIME magazine, drawing national attention to the problems of inner city youth in America.

Yummy by G. Neri

Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty, a graphic novel, written by Greg Neri and Illustrated by Randy DuBurke is told from the P.O.V. of Roger.  Roger is an 11-year-old kid who lived in the same community as both victims, Yummy and Shavon.   However, as the media added their usual hype to the news story and as thousands of viewers and readers around the country speculated, Roger searched for the truth.  He wasn’t satisfied with the vilified image of Yummy that the media produced.  Yes Yummy had bullied him in the past but Yummy was still a kid from a broken home who liked to sleep with his teddy bear.

I usually don’t read graphic novels but I found the illustrations in this book to be nice.  I enjoyed the pictures and reading the captions.  However, the story line wasn’t quite there for me.  I could tell that it was written by an “outsider.”  Although Neri did a decent job with the dialogue I wasn’t sure if I bought it.  I felt like he was on the outside looking in.  There was a feel of him writing about an inner-city neighborhood but not quite connecting to the neighborhood.

On the other hand, Neri did create an outlet for people who have no idea about the ‘hood to feel as if they’re getting a front row seat to the party.  When I finished reading I just felt like this is one of those books that continue to feed stereotypical images to those who don’t have clue about the inner-city and can’t buy a vowel.  One thing I do agree with is as the author noted:

So, was Yummy a cold-blooded killer or a victim?  The answer is not black-and-white.

No the answer isn’t black-and-white…

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