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Begging for Change

by Sharon G. Flake

Published by Jump at the Sun / Hyperion, 2003
235 pages
ISBN: 0-7868-0601-X

Ages 12 - 15

Everything seems such a struggle to teenager Raspberry Hill. She and her mother are no longer homeless, but every step forward, like having an apartment, has its downside--in this case, a threatening young neighbor who puts Raspberry's mother in the hospital. When Raspberry, who is always looking for ways to make money, sees a wad of bills in her friend Zora's purse, she takes the money. After all, everything is so easy for Zora, whose father is a doctor. But nothing is the same afterward. Zora doesn't trust her, and wants Raspberry to tell their friends and family what she's done. Meanwhile Raspberry's luck--rarely good in her opinion--seems to spiral downward. When Zora accuses Raspberry of being just like Raspberry's father--who steals some of Raspberry's hard-earned money (to support his crack cocaine habit), Raspberry aches at the thought it might be true. Sharon Flake's first-person narrative is alive with the words and feelings of a young African American teen trying to make sense of herself and the people around her--good people trying their best to live a good life--in this novel that underscores how challenges both within and beyond one's own control, from personal choices to race and class prejudice, can make the struggle for a better life hard. Strong family, friendships and community ties that often sustain but sometimes challenge Raspberry and her mother form the backdrop of this moving and powerful novel. (MS; Nov 10) 2003 Cooperative Children's Book Center


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