Light of Day by Allison Van Diepen

LightOfDayLight of Day by Allison Van Diepen

From the author of Takedown and Street Pharm, comes Light of Day – a love story that’s ensnarled in the underground world of date-rape drugs and teenage prostitution. Gabby Perez is an intelligent and attractive high school student who hosts a call-in program on a local radio station. She has fallen from grace due to a recent break-up with Mr. Popular, but still walks the hallways with pride. One night while out partying she and a friend almost become victims to a pimp who drugs girls before kidnapping them. The evening is saved by a mysterious (handsome) stranger, who warns Gaby before it is too late.

Gaby is a strong female character who stands up for herself with her family, friends, and romances. She is loyal and headstrong, and wants to do right by the world. Gaby finds that not everyone wants to be helped and some people are never as real as you want them to be, while others might surprise you by stepping up just when you need them the most.

Author Allison Van Diepen writes a lot of exciting and popular titles. Check out her website for more info about her.

Titles by the same author: Takedown, Street Pharm, The Oracle of Dating, Raven, Snitch

Review by Sarah Rosenkrantz


The Lure by Lynne Ewing


The Lure by Lynne Ewing

This quick-reading Urban Drama tells the story of fifteen-year-old Blaise, who lives in the dangerous neighborhood of Washington, DC, where gunshots and gangbanging is the norm rather than what the kids avoid.  Blaise is jumped in to the Core 9 gang, against the advice of her two best guy friends who are already in it.  They know that the leader Trek wants to make her a “lure,” to attract rival gang members to get revenge.  Although Blaise is wary, she can’t resist the power and money that being a lure brings her, but eventually she is forced to face some agonizing decisions.

This book is a decent example of Urban Drama and I think fans will like it.  The narrative is fast, with lots going on and feels fairly realistic.  I would recommend it to fans of the Bluford High series and readers who like Nini Simone and L. Divine books.

party girl          daughters of the moon          culture clash          girl like me

Takedown by Allison van Diepen


Takedown by Allison van Diepen

After serving two years in Juvie taking the blame for Diamond Tony’s drugs, Darren is out and dealing drugs again, but this time as an insider informant for the police.  He can’t wait to get Tony’s whole operation busted as revenge.  One problem, however, is his growing relationship with the sweet Jessica, a Beyonce’ look-alike whose parents would kill her if they found out she was dating a dealer.  The situation gets even more complicated when Diamond Tony’s gang instigates a turf war with another local gang, and Darren’s police detective gets himself killed after bragging about a big drug takedown on the local television news.

While I didn’t love this as much as Street Pharm, it is definitely worth the time.  Van Diepen fans and readers of Urban Drama are perfect fits for her newest title.  What I especially appreciated was that the writer used realistic language without every other word being a swear word.  Her characters felt familiar yet new at the same time, a plus for writers for write urban novels which can sometimes feel stereotypical in terms of character and plot.


street-pharm          ravenfffff snitch

In Darkness by Nick Lake

in darkness

In Darkness by Nick Lake

“In darkness I count my blessings like Manman taught me. One:  I am alive. Two:  there is no two. I see nothing.  I hear nothing.  This darkness, it’s like something solid.  It’s like something inside me.”

So begins the readers’s journey with Shorty, a Haitian teen stuck underground in a crumbling hospital after a terrible earthquake.  He is surrounded by death, and slowly dying of thirst and starvation, but shares the story of his difficult life and how he ended up in his current predicament.  Shorty’s hard-scrabble slum life led him into a world of gangsters, ruled by the impulsive Soleil, just so he and his family can survive.  Like he’s whispering in our ear, Shorty tells us about life in his world, where the gang lords imitate the American gangbangers, and children execute enemies with barely a second thought.    While he waits in hope of rescue, he feels the ghost-like presence of a man coming into his mind, that of Toussaint L’Overture, slave who led the rebellion to free the Haitain slaves in the late 1700’s.   Though seeming different, the two men actually have ideas in common that will intrigue readers as they make their way through this captivating story.

Although I found this book to be utterly sad, I was compelled by the author’s style to read it to the end.  I had to find out what happened to Shorty, even though his life felt hopeless.  In the afterward, Nick Lake said he did research Haitian history, but took liberties with the facts, smoothing out the history to fit his story.  I think this book will make readers want to learn more about l’Overature, as his character as a simple man who led a revolution against Napoleonic France is fascinating.  I recommend this to readers who like urban drama or historical fiction.

Clean by Amy Reed

Clean by Amy Reed

This book will be a must-read for Ellen Hopkins fans.  It tells the gritty story of five teenaged addicts in a drug treatment center outside of Seattle.  Each teen narrates the story in turn.  Their histories and drug use vary widely, but they have all hit rock bottom and their families see the rehab center as their last chance.

Kelly is the pretty party girl who never says no to another drink.

Olivia is the perfectionist who has developed an eating disorder and diet pill addiction.

Eva’s depression over her mom’s death has led her to marijuana and other drug abuse.

Jason is the hostile alcoholic who is angry at the world.

Christopher is the home schooled, evangelical Christian who has become a meth addict with the help of his neighbor.

Readers will be sucked into these teens’ worlds as they tell their own stories and try to get straight.  Reed doesn’t shy away from hard subjects like rape, homosexuality and neglectful and abuse parents.  My heart was breaking as I lived through these young people’s pasts with them.

I recommend this title to readers looking for something realistic, Ellen Hopkins fans, and fans of Amy Reed’s first book Beautiful.


Straight Outta East Oakland by Harry Louis Williams II

Straight Outta East Oakland by Harry Louis Williams II

First off, this didn’t feel like the typical urban drama because the main character, Firstborn Walker, is a studious young man who just makes some really bad decisions.  He’s from East Oakland and has been accepted to a prestigious (fictitious) private college in Berkeley.  The only catch is he has to come up with 20% of his first year’s tuition in order to qualify to get the rest of his costs (tuition, books and dorm) paid for for his entire time there.  What makes this especially tricky is that he’s about to be evicted from his rented room and can’t find any type of job, no matter how hard he looks.  Out of desperation, what he finally decides to do is go along with his childhood friend Drama and sell marijuana until he can save up the money he needs to start school in the fall.  What are the odds that his plan will work out, or that this naive bookworm will even survive?

This book captured and kept my interest more than many urban dramas.  It felt authentic without glorifying the drugs and violence, while at the same time telling a suspenseful story.  Sometimes the writer does become a little preachy about the “black man’s plight in the hood,” but I think these are messages that especially need to be heard by readers of this particular genre.  I would recommend this to fans and urban drama and Bay Area urban teens and young adults.

We also own the sequel to this book, Straight Outta East Oakland 2, Trapped on the Track.

First Round Lottery Pick

First Round Lottery Pick by Franklin White

Langston Holiday is one of the best basketball players Cincinnati has ever seen.  He has been playing on the courts of Poindexter Village, aka The Vil, since he was four years old and is now the number one recruit in the nation.   But instead of heading off to college for a least a year before he can turn pro, he’s opted to sign up for the overseas draft and play three years in Europe, before going pro in the U.S.  He should be in line for a multi-million year contract, and suddenly things are changing for him in the hood.  His best friend Jalen will support him in whatever he wants to do, and his mom reluctantly agrees that it’s his decision, even though he will be giving up the chance at a free ride to UCLA, which she’s always dreamed of for him.  His girlfriend Tori adores him and supports him in whatever he wants to do.  His estranged father tries to tell him how important the college education would be for him, but he blows him off when his partner makes a sarcastic remark about Langston’s mom and takes off in anger.

Now The Vil is in an uproar at his news, some with envy and some folks trying to figure out how to cash in on Langston’s good fortune.  His girl-on-the-side Katrina won’t stop chasing him around the hood.  Toy, a former local ball player himself, has been badgering Langston for six months to sign with him and his newly formed sports agency.  Sadly, things never go as smoothly as one would like, especially in a hood like the Vil where everyone is up in everyone else’s business, and some folks are trying to capitalize on other’s good fortune to make their own money.  There are drug deals, a kidnapping, blackmail and more.

This page-turner deserves a play in all YA collections with a strong interest in urban drama.  The characters are solid, the action non-stop, and the writing decent.  I especially appreciated the the writer White went out of his way to avoid constant swearing, while still keeping the language realistic and authentic.  I found the ending a disappointment, but that’s just my opinion.

Try this title is you like Urban Drama, and the authors Sister Souljah, Tracy Brown, Ni-Ni Simone and Walter Dean Myers. Click HERE to see all our Urban Drama reviews.