By Allison van Diepen
Reading level: Ages 14 and up
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse
By Alexa Ceja, Courier Staff Writer
"In the school run by gangs, staying out was harder than joining. We knew who our friends were, and were careful what we said. If people thought we were haters it would be a matter of time."
Julia DiVino, the main character in Snitch, a novel by Allison van Diepen attends an inner city high school in Brooklyn. The school is dominated by gangs, a lifestyle Julia intends to avoid, but can't.
Her mother is dead and her father is usually either working or with his girlfriend, leaving Julia to fend for herself most of the time. For years, she has managed to get along without being part of a gang, but then she meets Eric, a mysterious new boy at school. Trying to protect him, gets Julia branded as a snitch and suddenly joining a gang doesnít seem like such a bad idea.
The author of the book gives depth to many characters, not just Julia and Eric. For example, Juliaís father changes from being mostly absent to a full-on father figure. Juliaís friends have their own tough decisions to make.
In a perfect world, the characters would have made different decisions, but this iss far from a perfect world. Van Diepen does an excellent job of showing that the decision to join a gang isnít always easy and that, while gangs are not good, they arenít completely evil either.