Published by Nancy Paulsen Books
Summary: Sixth-grader Bryan wishes his life could be more peaceful and free of drama, but living in New York City’s projects makes that difficult. His father is in and out of jail, and both his parents are trying to help Bryan and his older sister Ava stay on the right path. When Bryan meets Mike, he and his parents think he’s found a good friend–Mike is respectful and gets good grades. But before long, Mike is convincing Bryan to cut school and “train surf” on the outside of subway cars. Bryan knows what he’s doing is dangerous and wrong, but it’s hard for him to risk Mike’s disapproval. When events start to catch up with the two boys, their friendship becomes strained, and Bryan has to decide where his loyalties to Mike, his family, and a new friend lie. 177 pages; grades 4-7.
Pros: Bryan’s experiences in the NYC projects may be unfamiliar to some kids, but his struggles with friends, family, and self-acceptance will resonate with almost all late elementary and middle school readers.
Cons: Bryan’s father was kind of a mysterious character; I would have liked to understood more how he spent his days and a little more about his past.