Tag Archives: mature

Sentences: The life of M.F. Grimm

Carey, P., & Wimberly, R. (2007). Sentences: [the life of M.F. Grimm]. New York: DC Comics.

In an earlier post I’d kinda trashed Word Up! magazine for providing incomplete coverage of questionable role models. This book by Percy Carey, aka MF Grimm, is a great example of success in the areas that Word Up!’s coverage of Lil’Wayne fell short.

MF Grimm has a story comparable to Lil’Wayne he unapologetically talks about getting in fights, shoot-outs, dealing drugs, and the “glory” of the gangsta life. The main difference in MF Grimm’s story is that he doesn’t just share the glory, he shares, his pain, his regret, and the consequences of his actions as well. He never blames anyone else for his paralysis nor for his several incarcerations (well, okay he does blame a snitch as the reason the cops pinned him, but admits that if he wasn’t dealing drugs he wouldn’t have been in the situation in the first place).

The graphics are engaging; not too explicit, but not watered down. The dialogue is rough, but real. The story is captivating, heartbreaking, and inspiring. Even in the roughest of situations, Percy Carey is sure to remind readers that good influences are always around. True, Carey’s fighting spirit is what got him into a lot of trouble but, after he smartened up, it was that same fighting spirit that got him out of trouble.

This story is a rollercoaster ride of a black man’s life growing up in NYC in the 80’s and trying to break out of the gang life and into the hip-hop industry. From Sesame Street to being jailed and paralyzed, Carey’s story alterates between down to earth and boastful, but that’s an element of hip-hop regardless. Also, one final shout-out is to the credit that Carey gives the strong female role models he’s had in his life; his Mom, grandmother and sisters. It is nice to see women of colour represented as people rather than objects, a mistake made far too often in the rap world.

Anywho, here’s MF Grimm stats on AllMusic.Com and here’s a track that keeps it real off of his album American Hunger, “I Rather Be Wrong”

Columbine

Cullen, D. (2009). Columbine. London: Old Street.

I found out about this book while reading a YA Library journal, it was in the recommended new release section and the write up grabbed my attention.

Columbine a single word, a verb, a proper noun, one school and an event of massive historic influence. The author, David Cullen was a reporter at the time of the shootings and this 360 page book (Plus notes, timeline, and fifteen page bibliography) details the ten years that Mr. Cullen has spent investigating the events of the shootings, what led up to them, what ensued afterwards, and the powerful draw that April 20, 1999 has on the North american psyche.

What I liked about this book:

  • David Cullen has extensive research citing interviews, victim impact statements, police reports, the killers journals. While he does make some assumptions they seem reasonably grounded in the evidence at hand.
  • Bullying, teen ostracism, and the devastating effects have increased since 1999. It is crucial to understand why people bully, what the effects of bullying can be, and what the warning signs of disaster are.
  • The book doesn’t have to be read from cover to cover, one can pick it up at a random page and start reading (see following comment about what I DIDN’T like about this book)

What I didn’t like about this book:

  • This book jumps around like House of Pain! Reading it straight through is the same as reading it by randomly picking pages.  It’s like he took his 10 years of notes and just bound them up into a book without bothering to organize them into sections.
  • The book is for OLDER teens, or at least mature and morbid teens. Though I saw this book in a YA Library journal it was cataloged as Adult Non-Fiction in my local library.
  • The writing is… average. Short and to the point, but lacking in artistic flavour.

All in all though I’m glad I read this book. For all the coverage this story got in the news at the time. It takes the extensive documentation that David Cullen has collected here to really start to understand what happened at Columbine and why.