Innercity Girl Like Me
1 journaler for this copy...
Bernardo, originally from Winnipeg but now living in Toronto has set her story in the Central Park area of Winnipeg. Winnipeggers will easily recognize the setting and characters and events that parallel actual people and recent events in Winnipeg gang land.
The story follows Maria and her gangster "girlfriends" from the ages of about ten to young adulthood. Maria having been sexually abused by an uncle is rejected by her own family (who decides to keep quiet about Maria's disclosure) and sent to live with her grandmother. Grandmother is well-meaning but doesn't speak English and is ill equipped to meets the needs of this damaged child. School, likewise, fails her. Maria tells of only one teacher who seems to care but that teacher is ineffective in preventing Maria from being lured into gang life. She is initiated as a full-fledged gang member at 13 and given the name G-child (gangsta child).
I felt a bit of disconnect at the beginning of the story. I heard a young adult's voice describing a ten year old's experience. And so for me, the first few chapters sounded less authentic than the rest of the book - more like a high school English student attempting to satisfy her teacher's demand for proper English than how a kid would feel and think. However, at about the point of Maria's initiation, Bernardo was able to bring me in with thoughts and dialogue more befitting her character.
Bernardo accurately depicts the allure of gang life for inner city youth. It provides family and protection, notoriety and adventure. "Easy" money too. However, when money becomes the be all and end all, the "family" breaks down amid distrust, betrayal and violence.
While Maria's story and that of the other gang members would be heartbreaking to any caring person, Bernardo's voice is dispassionate enough to allow the reader to absorb and contemplate and ask, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"
This is my sixth book for the Canadian Book Challenge. It will be released somewhere into the wild in the next couple of weeks during my annual summer road trip with my daughters.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
at the pay phone at the corner of 2nd Avenue NW and 10th Street NW
A vacation release. I hope the finder enjoys it.