At the heart of the story are two teenagers: Marshal Mariot, an introverted video gamer and bike rider, and Frankie Paul, who leaves foster care to direct his cousin's drug business while he's in prison. Frankie devises a plan to attack Marshall and his friends—it is his best chance to showcase his toughness and win respect for his crew. Catching wind of the plan, Marshall and his friends decide they must preemptively go after Frankie's crew to defend their honor. The pressure mounts as both groups of teens race to find a gun and strike first. All the while, the community at large—a cast that includes the teens' families, black market gun dealers, local pastors, a bodega owner and a veteran beat cop—try their best to defuse the conflict and keep the kids alive.
Successfully capturing his years of ethnographic research in relatable prose, this gripping work of narrative nonfiction reads like a novel ... Venkatesh keeps the pace moving briskly without skimping on the complexity of his subjects. Readers of crime fiction and social science nonfiction will be gripped by his telling.