Summary: Grade 7 Up–Even though random shootings have become increasingly common in his neighborhood, Mann is horrified when his little brother is gunned down while playing on his own front porch. Two years later, the 13-year-old and his parents are still struggling with their grief. His father believes that if he had been less loving and protective, Jason might have been tougher and capable of avoiding the shot. Mann and his friend Kee-lee keep track of the shooting deaths around them, certain that their own time may come and make them nothing more than numbers on their list. Influenced by ancient African coming-of-age rituals in which young boys are sent into the wilderness to attempt to survive, Mann's father takes him and Kee-lee camping and abandons them far from home. For two urban teens with little food or money, this is a dangerous, frightening experience that leads to crime and violence. After the boys make their treacherous way back home, Mann's father turns him out to live on the streets, determined he will not lose another son because he is too soft. This disturbing, thought-provoking novel will leave readers with plenty of food for thought and should fuel lively discussions.–Ginny Gustin, Sonoma County Library System, Santa Rosa, CA
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Themes: Survival, Ethnic History, Coming of Age—male, Urban Struggles
Classroom Implications: Makes a good choice for a male book club or provides an additional male perspective on coming of age in an urban setting. This is available on audio to support lower level readers. Flake writes to capture the attention of her young adult audience. She is successful with writing literature that students have an easy time making connections with the text and the characters. Bang! could also be in interesting match with Hatchet or Spirit Bear, both outdoor survival stories with male narrators.