Summer, 1999. Felicia "Fe Fe" Stevens lives with her mother and older teenaged brother in building 4950 of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes. The high-rise is next in line to be torn down by the Chicago Housing Authority, and the neighborhood is beginning to fall down around them. Fe Fe is friends with Precious and Stacia, but when Fe Fe welcomes Tonya into their fold, the dynamics shift. Their friendships fray, as do the structures of the four girls' families.
... poignant and unflinching ... Wolfe has a wonderful ear for dialogue, deploying pitch-perfect vernacular and slang. And she doesn't mince her words, either ... Wolfe also leavens her narrative with the bureaucratic minutiae essential to understanding the precarious conditions facing families as Chicago transformed its public housing system.
Wolfe shows us Fe Fe’s still-tender, childlike mind...And yet, she recognizes that as a Black child, she is denied a claim on innocence ... This is a powerful novel about injustice, the institutional racism that is the foundation of the projects and their policing, and survival ... Tragic, hopeful, brimming with love, Wolfe’s debut is a remarkable achievement.
... excellent ... Told in brief chapters with a focus on descriptive, powerful language, readers who enjoyed Sandra Cisneros’ House on Mango Street will fall in love with this book ... here are successes and tragedies in this coming-of-age story which makes it all the more authentic to real life. It is hard to read it without thinking of the people we grew up with, wondering where they are, and who we would be without their influence on us when we were young ... Racism, the power of our own histories, and the regrets that shape our futures are all on gorgeous display.