The Barrio Kings by William Kowalski (Rapid Reads series)
At the age of 23, Rosario has a job with hopes of promotions and higher pay. He takes courses for his GED and high school diploma and lives with his girlfriend Connie, who is pregnant with their son. He wears long sleeves to work to cover the tattoos from his years in the Barrio Kings gang; the only visible sign of his previous gang life is the small BK tattoo on his hand. When his old BK buddy Juan gets out of prison after five years, Juan asks Rosario for help. Rosario explains he left the gang and the most he can do is let Juan stay at his and Connie’s place for one night. When Connie is shot in their apartment in a drive by a few days later, endangering both her life and the baby’s, Juan tries to persuade Rosario to hit back at the Vandals gang with him. Rosario is torn between keeping his promise to Connie for no more gang banging or taking out revenge on the Vandals not only for shooting Connie but also for killing his older brother years earlier. How he figures out what to do makes this book exciting and engrossing.
I really loved the characters; they could be people in our own neighborhood, school and city. The plot is completely realistic. This title is part of the Rapid Reads series; I have already read three titles in the series and liked them all. The situations are totally realistic, the characters could be someone the readers knows and the books are readable in a just a few days.
Review by Ms. Goldstein-Erickson