Show and Prove
SHOW AND PROVE is a powerful, gritty book that is told from two different perspectives — Smiles’ and Nike’s, two teens in the South Bronx in 1983. While some big changes are going on in the world, the two best friends are seeing changes come to their own lives. Not only is Smiles involved in a summer camp counselor rivalry with Cookie, but he is also thinking about joining the Five Percenters. Nike has struggles of his own — he likes Sara, a sweet new camp counselor, plus he wants to win the breakdancing competition and has to face his own ignorance. As the summer wears on, the two find purpose in their lives as they overcome struggles and rethink their assumptions about people in their community.
Author Sofia Quintero knows her characters and the world of 1983 Bronx through and through. She jumps right into the characters’ slang and voices, and I initially had read it especially slowly and carefully to anchor myself in their world. After a few chapters though, it became easy to picture Nike and Smiles — and what vibrant, unique and flawed characters they are. Readers can’t but help love them for who they are, even with their multiple shortcomings. The way that Nike and Smiles transform throughout the book is incredibly rewarding to experience; the characters feel so real that I feel pride for how much they’ve grown.
Though the novel is set more than three decades ago, the story feels like it could happen today. Perhaps with the turbulent world we live in today, the themes of friendship, respect, passion, compassion and countering prejudice are all the more important and relevant. SHOW AND PROVE is an instant classic with all the staying power and youthful vigor of hip-hop for generations to come.
First Published @Teenreads