Draper, Sharon et al. We Beat the Street: How a Friendship Led to Success. Puffin, 2006. ISBN 978-0142406274. 194 pp. $6.99
Coretta Scott King award-winner Sharon Draper pieces together three lives that intertwined when a trio of friends made an agreement to keep one another on the straight and narrow. The narrative bounces back and forth from “as told to” with dialogue recreations to short reflective essays from the young men about the events being retold.
For Sampson, a positive encounter with a doctor who took time to answer the questions of an inquisitive six-year old sparked an interest in medicine. An elementary school teacher who taught students from the ghetto about Shakespeare encouraged George to consider college. Rameck dreamed of being an actor, but there wasn’t enough money to pay the electric bill, let alone fund new shoes and portfolio photographs. Childhoods filled with absent parents and longing for success were peppered with rivalry, gunfire and petty crime. Through sports and shared classes, the three came together to share music, laughs and dreams.
Junior year, the three friends were cutting up in math class when the teacher suggested they take themselves to the college presentation at the library. “What started out as three high school boys skipping class turned out to be the most significant event in our lives,” says George. In spite of their desire to attend college and make something more of their lives, it was all too easy to fall into trouble in their Newark neighborhood. Assault and battery and robbery earned both Rameck and Sampson time in a detention center.
Ultimately, they achieved their dreams and are an inspiration to young people of all backgrounds. Information about their foundation, which provides health fairs, leadership training and mentoring, is included in the conclusion. File under career, collective biographies, or your self-help-inspirational section.