Did you know 50 Cent could write? Other than songs, that is. He wrote this novel loosely inspired by his adolescence and with his 14 year old son in mind. I was very skeptical of this book and was surprised to find a very nicely, straight forward, touching and easy story to read; I was even more surprised when I found myself liking it! Because, yes, I liked it.
I’m not into stories of bullies with a big redemption at the end and thank God this book wasn’t like it. Do kids even need a reason to bully? Hmm… In Playground ‘Butterball’ is kind of a bully who at the same time is subtly bullied himself. He hates his life and the fact that on top of being fat, he is also black (or is it the other way around?).
50 Cent touches some of the issues that teens have: self-esteem, weight, identity, money, anger, frustration, friendship, etc. But he does so as a whole; that is, rather than ‘Butterball’ telling us that he is the way he is because he’s poor, he shows us how he lives so we come to our own understanding of how the way he lives leads to be how he is.
The story is moving, enjoyable and most of all, believable. Schools and public libraries should have this book out front for display. I think it is great material for a book discussion/club/group because it compels to thoughts, brain storming and ultimately, kids can relate to the story and offer their own solutions.
Solutions, yes, because as much as adults try to prevent and deal with bullying and all that goes “wrong” in a kid’s life, ultimately, kids themselves are the ones who can offer the best inside to address their issues.