Review: Teenie, Christopher Grant (2010)


Teenie’s best friend Cherise has always been a little wild. Now that she’s accepting money from a guy she met online (who goes by the totally non-sketchy name “Big Daddy”), though, Teenie is really worried. Teenie herself is much more straight-laced and studious, but when a few new clothes get her the attention of hot senior Greg, she is instantly head-over-heels and in over her head.

I just loved this. It felt like a 100% believable slice of urban teen life. The dialogue is perfect: I could hear the characters’ voices in my head, without crossing the line into overdone slang. The online chats even manage to be realistic without being annoying, which I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a book pull off. There’s a lot of, “he was chatting with me and then he said he was logging off but then I found out he just blocked me and stayed on to chat with you,” which is absolutely the modern teen version of Jane Austen social negotiations, and yet it’s so hard for adult authors to do without seeming contrived. My hat is off to you, Mr. Grant, sir!

The girls deal with some topical stuff, but it never ever feels like an Afterschool Special. In large part this is because every single supporting character is fully realized and engaging. Teenie’s parents are especially awesome. Her Barbadian dad, Beresford, is one of the funniest parental characters I’ve read in a long time:

My dad has these sayings — I call them Beresisms — and “teefin’” is one that he uses most frequently. Teefin’, or stealing, is done by a teef (thief) or, when my dad’s really angry, a teefah. It’s no wonder that growing up I thought Queen Latifah was a criminal mastermind. Lord, this man is strange.

Well-written, funny, believable realistic fiction about girls of color: boy howdy, do we need more like this. (Note: the main characters are 9th graders, and I’d say this is best for 7th-10th grade. There is one explicit, scary sexual situation, but it’s written from the perspective of a girl who’s too young to handle what she’s gotten herself into — and fortunately, she gets out again before anything too awful happens. Younger girls getting pressured (and worse) by older boys happens all the time, in cities and suburbs, so I do think this is appropriate for a lot of middle school readers.)

Also reviewed by: Urban Reviews. The Brown Bookshelf has an interview with the author.

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13 Responses to Review: Teenie, Christopher Grant (2010)

  1. Katelynn says:

    I am a seventh grader and I really loved the book Teenie. Once I picked up the book I couldn’t put it down . I was really interested! I would like to read more books by you.

  2. Katelynn says:

    I am a seventh grader and i really loved the book Tennie . Once i picked up the book and couldn’t put it down . I was really interested .I would like to read more books by you.

  3. esha says:

    I loved this book I had to read it 2 times and beresford cracked me up he reminds me of 2 of my best friend’s parents you definitely should make another one

    • Sam says:

      Thanks, Esha! I love hearing from students about what you think about these books — after all, you are who they’re really for. Teenie is definitely one of my favorites!

  4. Kelly says:

    Wow. What a good book. I read it in one day after chillin at the library. The ending, wow…write another! And omg “I’ve seen more 70s on your report card then in a nursing home. I laughed out loud. I’m am 14 goin into 9th grade at an all girls school (no greg) but I cried. I also need a friend like garth, and humor like beresford!!!
    Great book

    • Sam says:

      Hey, thanks for the comment, Kelly! I’m so glad to hear you liked it as much as I did. (And seriously, Beresford cracked me right up. I still laugh every time I think about Queen Latifah the criminal mastermind.)

  5. Arion says:

    I am an 8th grader. I am 13 years old. I read this book thinking I was not gonna get anything out of it. After Greg did that to her on pg.150-151,I cried. I am going to 9th grade next year and for girls my age we are at a stage were we are trying to be grown but still want to be a kid. We dont know what we want. Us (pre-teen, early teennage) girls all we do is think about boy sometimes even more then school. I think all 7th grade and up should read this book. I would really like if Mr.Grant would write another “Teenie” book. I loved the ending,people at school said it was lame but I think it was a nice twist to the story. Thank You Mr.Grant for writing this book. -Arion :)

    • Sam says:

      Thanks so much for writing, Arion! I’m glad you got so much out of the book. And of course, your recommendation will mean so much more to my students than mine does — it’s always good to hear that another girl their age liked the book!

  6. Sam says:

    You’re welcome, Chris! Thanks for the great book, and for stopping by.

  7. Thank you for the great review. Paula, I hope you enjoy the story.

    Chris
    @nycsubwaywriter

  8. Sam says:

    I’m happy to help make your To Read list as unwieldy as mine. :)

    And yes, I hope I’m doing Cybils! I just filled out the form.

  9. :paula says:

    Jeez, girlie, I come over here to catch up with what you’re reading, and three out of three of your most recent reviews add to my To Read list! This one in particular sounds like something I NEED.

    Gonna do Cybils this year?

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