Children's books and book reviews - reading resource for kids, teachers, librarians, parents

Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

*What They Found: Love on 145th Street* by Walter Dean Myers- young adult book review  
What They Found: Love on 145th Street
by Walter Dean Myers
Ages 16+ 243 pages Wendy Lamb Books February 2009 Paperback    

Love comes to us in many different ways. Walter Dean Myers’ series of intertwined short stories about love and relationships on 145th Street in Harlem begins with the poignant story “The Fashion Show, Grand Opening, and Bar-b-que Memorial Service.”

Abeni has just lost her father to cancer. Before he died, he wanted to ensure that his wife went ahead with her plans to open a beauty parlor as she has wanted to do for many years. He wanted the family to combine the grand opening of the beauty parlor with his memorial barbecue: “He was calling on me to see to his dying wishes.” (p. 4)

At first, Abeni, her sister Noee and their mother are reluctant to honor his request, but they decide to show their love by fulfilling his wishes. The beauty parlor opens on 145th Street and becomes the common link between the rest of the stories in this collection.

Some of the stories explore romantic relationships. In “What Would Jesus Do,” promiscuous Cheryl tests the fidelity of her best friend Evelyn’s boyfriend by trying to seduce him. In “The Life You Need to Have,” Gaylee finds out that her boyfriend Malcolm’s former girlfriend is six months pregnant. Will she be able to deal with this fact and continue their relationship? In “Burn,” Abeni’s younger sister, Noee, is attracted to bad boy Burn. In “Poets and Plumbers,” Noee is once again searching for a “black Prince Charming,” but what she finds is a would-be poet. Will she be able to build a relationship with him? Will she be able “to figure it all out?” (p. 219)

Other stories explore family, social and economic relationships in present-day Harlem. In “Jump at the Sun,” Brenda’s brother, Donald, fails to appear for his court date, causing his family to forfeit
their bail money. Donald’s drug use has destroyed his family: “It was as if someone had come to our house and had removed the plug that held in that sense of togetherness and joy that made us a family.” (p. 94)
In “Law and Order,” Myers explores themes of generational conflict, racism, and gang initiation. In “The Man Thing,” Eddie tries to get a job after graduating from high school, but soon finds out that he is not qualified to do anything:
“I spent six months staring at people in the face and trying not to look too stupid when they asked me what I could do.” (p. 121)
His relationship with his young son and his son’s mother is almost destroyed because of his conception of what it means to be a man in Harlem.

Walter Dean Myers has few illusions about the difficulties of life on 145th Street. In “Society for the Preservation of Sorry-Butt Negroes,” Abeni is disgusted by her twenty-year-old dropout boyfriend, Harrison Boyd. However, after they break up, Harrison changes his life by using the footage of Abeni’s rejection to start a film career based on the “war between the black man and the black woman.” (p. 150). In “Madonna,” Myers explores the life of a 16-year-old unwed mother who struggles to feed her baby. In “Combat Zone,” Curtis Mason finds himself fighting in Afghanistan. In a strange but beautiful twist of fate, love finds him just as he confronts the horrors of war.

Walter Dean Myers is a prolific writer of novels, plays and poetry. As a Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner, his books describe the realities of life in modern-day American cities. What They Found: Love on 145th Street explores the lives of young black men and women searching for love and meaning in their often turbulent lives. There are marvelous descriptions and conversations about life in Harlem. Wonderful and wise characters such as “Mama Evans” (the widowed beautician) and John (the owner of the roti shop) give advice and commentary on the world they see unfolding before them.

The realities of everyday life on 145th Street show how love can appear in strange places and how the power of love can triumph in the end. Teenage readers and adults alike will be engaged by the powerful and entertaining sagas in this collection of stories.
Young adult book reviews for ages 12 and up - middle school and high school students

click here to browse children's board book reviews
click here to browse children's picture book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young readers book reviews
click here to browse young adult book reviews
click here to browse parenting book reviews
web reviews
  Myra Junyk/2009 for curled up with a good kid's book  

For grown-up fiction, nonfiction and speculative fiction book reviews,
visit our sister site Curled Up With a Good Book (