Review by Booklist Review
In the start of his new urban-fiction Promises series, K'wan introduces Promise Mohammed as she is trying to get through high school while living with her abusive aunt and cousin in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother died in a car crash, and if it weren't for her friends Mouse and Keys, she would have no allies. Mouse is tired of trying to find food for herself and her little sister after her mother runs through all their money for drugs. She begins working for the second-in-command of the local street-drug empire at high cost to herself. Keys gets a job playing piano at a local hotel, but he nearly blows an opportunity for a bigger gig due to his jealousy of Promise's crush on gangster Asher. Readers will see the potential of K'wan's three richly dimensional characters even as they're ground down by harrowing circumstances in this engaging tale, as all three are forced to make painful choices. The ending has several surprises, and readers will want to find out what happens next to Promise and her friends.
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Kirkus Book Review
Two teenage girls struggle to survive their senior year in the Brick City of Newark, where gangsters battle for power, turf, and revenge as matter-of-factly as if every round were just another day at the office. Promise Mohammed, still technically a virgin, loves reading English literature; her best friend, Mouse, nee Juliette Smith, agrees to carry drugs for Abdul, the second biggest shot in town, after a low-level pitch that he seals by demanding a blow job. When the two girls are busted for shoplifting, Promise's Aunt Dell talks them out of police custody, but only so that she can work off her enduring resentment of Promise's late mother by forcing her niece to work even harder at cleaning her house. Everyone is working an angle, from B-Stone, the dealer at the top of the food chain, to Dell's tenant Keys Jackson, who refuses to act on his feelings toward Promise until his potential as a pianist can make him somebody. The pot boils over when Zul, a rival gang leader, is released from prison after serving three years on a gun charge. He orders Asher, one of B-Stone's dealers, to execute his boss, and Asher, who has his own eye on Promise, is afraid to say no because he doesn't want Zul to learn that Asher's the person who planted the gun in question on him. K'wan keeps the violence tamped down much longer than you'd expect; when it finally breaks out, it slashes everyone in its path, some of them fatally. "Every girl deserves dreams," muses the story's Cinderella. Not in this seething anti--coming-of-age tale. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.