Pull by B.A. Binns, WestSide Books, 2010, 310 pp, ISBN: 1934813435
After his father shoots and kills his mother, it's up to David to keep his family together. Determined to reinvent himself at his new school, David changes his last name and works to keep a lower profile. But even the best of intentions aren't enough to hide who a person really is inside. And for better or for worse, keeping a low profile just isn't in the cards for someone like David.
But as David stands out more and more - battling with Malik, aggravating the principal, dazzling on the basketball court, and winning the attention of the tempestuous Yolanda - will he continue being able to protect his family? Or is he only pushing them away?
Yes, Pull fits pretty perfectly in my February personal reading challenge, but I also picked it up because the boy on the cover looks exactly like one of my former students. The resemblance is just incredible. He's only in 7th grade now, but once he hits high school, I am recommending this book! Once he gets over his reflection on the cover, he is going to love David's story.
I was shocked to learn that author B.A. Binns was a woman. She has 100% nailed the voice of a teenage boy. Check out this article from Ms. Binns on how she learned to "write like a boy."In fact, she wrote so convincingly, that sometimes I actually wished we could hear less of David's thoughts. For example, do I really need to hear a detailed description of the...effect...Yolanda has on him every time that she comes close? No, I do not. But that (frequent) over-sharing is my only David-complaint. His voice was aggressive, strong, and at turns both arrogant and achingly guilt-ridden - depending on the topic of his thoughts. Just when he got a little too cocky, Binns would show David hard at work at his night job - a construction site - or give us a tender scene with David and his sisters and I would be back on his side again.
The general premise of David's story revolves around his mother's shooting, his and his siblings' guilt over not being able to stop it, and David's efforts to start over. While threads of that tragedy run throughout the entire novel, it gradually becomes much more about David's relationship with a girl named Yolanda and her boyfriend, Malik. It still turns my stomach a little just to write Malik's name down. He was a true villan - literally using and abusing any girl who would let him, and they all let him. That aspect of the plot was a sad, sad commentary on the role that far too many young girls think they have to play in order to get status today. Yolanda was veeery different from the way that she was initially portrayed, and she eventually became my favorite character.
There were a few aspects of the plot that just bothered me all the way through. Like... David's youngest sister completely stopped speaking after the shooting, but no one ever makes an effort to connect with her or get her in counseling. Really?? And Barney's (the older sister's) insistence on pretending that David was her boyfriend at school. Did she seriously think that no one would ever find out? And Yolanda Dare's supposed nickname "The Dare." I just thought it was a little too corny for such a stand-out character.
But, do those things mean that I didn't care for Pull? Absolutely not. In fact, I read the entire novel in a day because I was so anxious to find out what would happen with David, Barney, Malik, and Yolanda. The ending was not at all what I expected, but it was all the more satisfying because of that.
High school readers who appreciate contemporary, urban stories will get addicted to Pull. But when recommending the book, keep in mind that there is plenty of profanity, sexual innuendo, and compromising sexual situations. Pull is not a book for younger readers.