• Lafourche Parish Public Library

Brooke's Pick: Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe


A coming-of-age debut about friendship, community and resilience, set in the housing projects of Chicago during one life-changing summer.


Last Summer on State Street, Toya Wolfe's standout debut, is an evocative and nostalgic coming of age novel, following four 12-year-old girls as they spend their last summer together - the summer of 1999 - at the Robert Taylor Homes, the infamous Chicago high-rise housing projects which were slated for demolition amid gang violence, vast poverty, and sweeping crime. Wolfe's heart-wrenching novel is a testament to her childhood growing up in the Robert Taylor Homes, and is a story that will touch readers in the deepest parts of their soul.


It was their last summer of innocence. At the start of the summer of 1999, Fe Fe, Precious, and Stacia spend their days jumping rope and dallying in the types of activities that young girls on the cusp of womanhood do. This is a pivotal summer, one that will change their lives forever. The girls have been watching the only neighborhood they have ever known - the Robert Taylor Homes - be torn down around them and the families who lived there relocated to other parts of Chicago. They know this is likely their last summer together, and Fe Fe, the novel's narrator, finds herself grasping, trying to hold on to whatever lingering vestiges of her life and childhood friendships that she can.


However, the girls couldn't foresee what was awaiting them in the summer of 1999. Fe Fe introduces a new girl to their group, Tonya, who has been relocated to their building after the high-rise that she lived in was demolished. Tonya is quiet and introverted, and Fe Fe can't help but feel that there is more to her story than she is letting on. It doesn't help that Stacia, the daughter of a prominent Gangster Disciple, has it out for Tonya right from the start. As Fe Fe tries to be a good friend to Tonya, while also not losing the friends she has known all her life, she finds herself straddling a line that will test both her limits and morals.


Last Summer on State Street is a raw and unflinching portrait of what it is like to be young, black, and female, trying to hold onto childhood and innocence while your community is being overrun by cops, gangs, and drugs. Not only is this story powerfully eye-opening and resonant, but Wolfe's writing is beautifully poignant as well. She has the incredible talent of being able to take the difficult, grisly parts of life growing up in the projects, and paint in vibrant details, giving dimension and depth to the well-worn stereotypes and clichés of the black experience in urban America.


Availability: eBook in cloudLibrary

Rating: ***** Stars (I loved it)

Reviewer: Brooke, Public Relations Librarian

 

ARE YOU AND THIS BOOK A GOOD MATCH?

DISCOVER MORE WITH NOVELIST APPEALS! Last Summer on State Street


GENRE: African American Fiction; Coming-of-Age Stories

TONE: Atmospheric; Heartwrenching

CHARACTER: Culturally Diverse

STORYLINE: Character-Driven; Intricately Plotted; Own Voices

WRITING STYLE: Compelling

LOCATION: Chicago, Illinois

TIME PERIOD: 1990s

SUBJECT: African American Families; City Life; Communities; Female Friendship; Growing Up; Life Change Events; Preteen Girls; Psychic Trauma; Public Housing; Summer; Violence


IF YOU LIKE THIS BOOK, YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY THESE TITLES:


7 views