"Never Go Home Again" by Shannon Holmes
TITLE: Never Go Home Again
AUTHOR: Shannon Holmes
PUBLISHER: Atria Publishing Group
PUBLISHED DATE: December 28, 2004
Very gripping story about a young man named Corey who starts selling drugs at a young age, and ends up in prison when he's 16 years old. The writing was very strong in this book in a story that I felt I'd seen before, it's very similar to the 2002 urban classic film, Paid in Full.
Corey comes from a good family. He has loving parents and siblings, and is a pretty good kid. His family lives in NYC, and all around him young men are pawns of the drug war and the criminal justice system. Corey's father tries hard to steer his son from the lure of the fast life, but Corey joins his violent friends in selling drugs, and at the age of 16, Corey gets locked up in jail - a place full of misery, violence, hatred, and death. Corey, due to a strong head on his shoulders manages to avoid a lot of the snares many fall into while incarcerated, and returns home a man with promises, a man looking to turn his life around - but also not blind to the lucrative drug trade.
This story was told in the third person narrative. It reads like other popular crime novels with larger than life figures and offering the reader life lessons and wisdom that could be seen as cliche - but people always are hungry to hear.
This book has a very straightforward style. The story is not overly descriptive, yet the writing draws the reader in. The wheel has not been re-written here...it's the classic cautionary tale about a young man who's gone down the wrong path.
From the streets of New York City, Riker's Island Prison, Holmes takes you on the journey o a young in crisis, and poignantly tells the reader about the politics and racial tensions prevalent in similar cities throughout the United States.
Pair this book with The New Jim Crow... This book was written in 2004, and The New Jim Crow was written 10 years after that, and many of the themes discussed in The New Jim Crow were addressed here. I felt this was a very accurate book and read similar to many other things I've read that have similar concepts and themes.
The characters were fairly typical. They read like almost every other street literature book you could read. No one is particularly complex. They are what they are and you have to accept them for that. Corey is the strong silent type - more of a calculating and cunning individual. He's the character that's basically the protagonist in every street lit book. Even though he sells drugs, and destroys his community, you're supposed to like him because he's standing up for himself, he's principled, he operates with more intelligence...think of Anansi the spider, but he's a dope boy. Corey's parents are also fairly typical. They are devout Christians, and want Corey to keep Corey from trouble, and though they give Corey a better life than many of the other kids in the neighborhood - they can't buy him the fancier things he craves, so he takes to the easy money of drug dealing. Doc is the typical prison lawyer. There's a character similar to this in I. C. U.. Doc is an older inmate who's extremely knowledgeable about the prison system and the law and takes Corey under his wing and offers him some mentors. Then, there's Monique...Corey's unfaithful girlfriend, and this plays out not too much unlike Upstate.
The criminal justice system, racism, drug dealing, and how this impacts youth are all dealt with here. This is a cautionary tale to young men to stay away from the streets.
The cover is simple. It's a picture of a young man sitting. The look on his face is serious, but approachable, like he's got a story to tell. It's appropriate to the book. I don't think it'll get a lot of teens excited to read the book...but I don't think it's mismatched to the book.
This story is somewhat easy to follow. It does do from the prison, to Corey's friends, to the past, and back to the present. If you listen to the audibook, like I did, this could be very confusing.
Recommendation: This book is for lovers of street literature. the writing is good, and you'll get drawn into the story.
Audience: Young Adults and Up
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