Why I wrote Homeboyz…
As many know, I am an inner-city high school teacher in Los Angeles at Lynwood High. It goes without saying that I love my kids and love being an English teacher but Los Angeles is a city plagued by teen violence and many, many, many of my students live in a community that is poisoned by gangs, guns and drugs.
Students at our school have been shot. Murdered. Killed. And tragically, violent teenage death has become so common in urban America (especially when it comes to minorities killing other minorities; there are virtually no white students at my school) that when this sort of monstrosity happens, it doesn’t even make the newspapers.
Worse, it feels as if there is an entire segment of the media that profits off of selling young kids the idea that gangs are cool, sexy, fun and adventurous. They’re not. Gangs are violent, anti-social and deeply hurtful to many, many people – and no one gets hurt more so than the young kids who get caught up in these street gangs. Therefore, when I see major record companies and multi-media conglomerates “selling the gangsta lifestyle” to our nation’s kids in order to make a buck, I get angry and frustrated.
The fact is, becoming embroiled in gangs – real gangs, not wanna-be stuff but real gangs – ends up one of pretty much two ways for young people. Kids go to jail or kids go to the cemetery. Of course, in music videos and the such, it all looks like a pumpin’ party. But go visit Juvenile Hall or prison – I have, many times – and you will see that the reality is an entirely different story.
It was this idea that was the spark which inspired me to write Homeboyz. I wanted to do a book that stripped away the false romance, that peeled away the pretend glamour, that didn’t buy into the bullshit that gangs were a just a life of non-stop partying.
Homeboyz is raw. Homeboyz is gritty. Homeboyz is a tragedy.
And Homeboyz has also been my most popular book. It’s won awards, it’s turned on thousands of readers, it’s got people talking about turning it into a feature length movie.
But probably, the thing that is most rewarding to me is that Homeboyz has been “that” book, the one that teachers everywhere have given to kids who swear they don’t like to read.
I’ve got boatloads of emails from people all across the country telling me the same story over and over.
I’ve got this boy (it’s inevitably a boy) and he wouldn’t read a thing. But he read Homeboyz and loved it! It’s the first book he has ever read cover to cover.
That to me, is just flat out awesome! Homeboyz has achieved cult-like status in certain circles, a fact which makes me really proud.
Filed Under: BlogTagged With: America, Book, guns and drugs, high school teacher, Homeboyz, idea, Los, Los Angeles, Lynwood High, media conglomerates, school, street gangs, teacher, teenage death
Homeboyz is a 2007 young adult fiction novel written by California teacher Alan Lawrence Sitomer. It is the third book of the Hoopster trilogy. The book won the Top Ten Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers award from the American Library Association in 2008.
The events of Homeboyz takes place four to five years after the events in Hip Hop High School. The book's main character is 17-year-old Dixon Theodore Anderson, nicknamed Teddy. Teddy is a hacker and a very intelligent young man. He is very attractive and has a well constructed body. Teddy's entire neighbourhood is overrun by gangsters and his sister, Tina Anderson, is killed in a crossfire. While the Anderson family mourns her death, Teddy goes to his car to seek vengeance. He is unsuccessful in getting revenge and is arrested. He then spends time in a California juvenile prison waiting for a judge to hear his case. During this time, Teddy is treated as if he was a gangster. He is set free, but is put under house arrest and is enrolled in a probation program. Teddy is forced to spend five days each week mentoring a kid named Micah. Teddy has difficulty tutoring Micah because he wants to be a gangster. But through Micah, Teddy is taught how to love someone and see how people can change. Also this book talks about when Teddy meets the person that killed his sister, and he wasn't from 0-1-0. He was a member of another rival gang. Mumzy B is the shooter responsible for the murder of his little sister.