Rummanah Aasi
  In September 1994, a story of gang violence on the South Side of Chicago rocked the U.S. and forced the nation to look closely at the rising gang violence across the country. Robert "Yummy" Sandifer at age 11 became the poster child of gang violence and was featured on several issues of Time Magazine.

Description: Robert Sandifer is known by his neighborhood as “Yummy” because he had a sweet tooth. He was born in 1984 and lived on the South Side of Chicago. He was only 11 years old when he became a gang member, a criminal, a corpse, and a poster child for gang violence. Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty is a fictionalized account that tries to make sense out of true and tragic events.

Review: I don't recall the Yummy headlines, however due to the continuing rise of gang violence in Chicago, his story is not unique nor forgotten. Like many gang stories we have heard before, Robert "Yummy" Sandifer came from a broken home and whose parents neglected and abused him to due to their own involvement with drugs and possible gang involvement. Yummy sought refuge with his grandmother, a woman overworked by taking care of other children just like Yummy. In 1994, Yummy became involved with Chicago's Black Disciples gang. Attempting to protect his gang's turf by shooting a rival gang member, Yummy instead killed an innocent teenaged girl. Yummy went on the run, only to meet his demise by those who he sought comfort, security, and support.
  Before the graphic novel opens, Neri informs us that he has blended fact and fiction in order to tell Yummy's story. Neri's well researched story gathers information from a variety of resources. His use of a fictional acquaintance and observer, Yummy's classmate Roger, whose older brother is also a member of the Disciples allows readers to get a personal yet distant account of their neighborhood and Yummy's personality. Like Roger, the reader can't help but ask his/herself whether or not Yummy is a victim of his own society or a cold blooded killer. There are no black and white answers given, however, the reader is forced to look at the clear evidence laid before them in order to come up with their own answers.
  Yummy is a gritty and unflinchingly realistic from its simple sentence structure to the rough black and white illustrations by Randy DuBurke. Yummy's famous mugshot, the daily activities of gang life and gang-ruled neighborhood are powerfully depicted. While some reviewers thought the graphic novel was too preachy, I thought it was all too real. It is meant to cause us discomfort and open our eyes at the horrible sociopolitical situations that are plaguing the streets of America. There would definitely be something wrong with us if this critically acclaimed graphic novel didn't touch us.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There is gang violence, but nothing beyond what we see and hear on the news. Recommended to Grades 6 and up.

If you like this book try: Monster by Walter Dean Myers, There Are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz, Always Running by J. Luis Rodriguez
1 Response
  1. I read this a few weeks ago and thought it was very good. I have gotten a number of people at my school to read it and they've all enjoyed it as well. Good review, thank you!

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