Summary: Dough Boys
In Dough Boys, we reunite with the kids of Pirates Cove, this time through the eyes of Rollie and Simp. The boys work as lookout boys for Coach Tez’s crew of drug dealers, but both feel differently about the gig.
Rollie is getting more interested in music and his love for drumming and is less enthusiastic about working for a drug lord. Simp on the hand is working to rise in rank. He’s especially interested because he loves playing for Tez’s basketball team and hopes to play for the NBA in the future. Unfortunately, basketball is now connected with drug dealing. The disconnect between the boys’ desires eventually begins to wear on their friendship.
It doesn’t help that Tai who Simp kinda likes is more into Rollie than him. Or that the new kid Chris is becoming closer friends with Rollie, to Simp’s dismay. But when the opportunity to audition for a popular band comes Rollie’s way, he’s forced to evaluate his current place in life.
Whoo, this book! I honestly forgot I was reading a middle-grade book for a minute there. It definitely felt more upper middle-grade, but in all the right ways.
As in So Done, the Pirates Cove neighborhood is bursting with life and I loved zooming into the way both of these boys live. Rollie who lives with his mom and grandma and plays music in church, but still works for a drug lord. And Simp whose mother leaves him to babysit his brothers and still collects some of the money he earns from working with Coach Tez.
Author Paula Chase creates characters that feel completely realistic. It was fun to see what the gang was up to: Tai, Mila, and Chris and Chris (or the Chris Twins as I like to call them). She takes readers straight into the emotions of the characters as we read their slangy narrations. It makes me glad to read books that sensitively portray issues facing kids in certain neighborhoods.
There’s so much tension packed into these pages as Rollie tries to decide on whether to stay or leave the gang and what that means for his relationship with Rollie. The culmination of the tension and the way this novel ends are just the perfect.
Overall: Dough Boys
Paula Chase’s Dough Boys is an emotion-charged middle-grade novel about two boys navigating their changing friendship while caught up with a local drug ring. This novel is insightful, authentic, and powerful in its realistic depiction of life in a housing project and the challenges some teens face.
If you loved So Done, there’s no reason to miss out on Dough Boys. And if you haven’t read So Done, just buy both books.
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More Upper Middle-Grade Reviews
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- Focused by Alyson Gerber
- A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan
- Beverly, Right Here by Kate DiCamillo
Have you read this book or anything by Paula Chase? What did you think? Want to learn more about the author? Check out my interview with Paula Chase here. You may also enjoy this list of Black middle-grade books.