Book cover: Darius and Twigby Walter Dean Myers
Amistad, 2013.
201 pages
Grades 8 and up

Darius and Twig are best friends living in the shadow of Harlem.

Darius is a gifted writer with a passionate desire to express himself. Twig is an outstanding runner who is at his most comfortable when he is on the track.

But daily life is hard to ignore, no matter your future prospects.

Darius has mediocre grades, so he hopes his writing will help him get a college scholarship. Twig is ready to put it all on the track for a way out, but his uncle may cut Twig’s dream short and make him work at the family bodega.

While trying to support each other in pursuit of their dreams, Darius and Twig still have to navigate avoiding bullies and trying to stay safe as violence haunts their neighborhood.

Darius and Twig are also torn between wanting to get away and wanting to step up and save their community.

As high school comes to an end, what will happen to their dreams?

The book focuses heavily on the back and forth dialogue between Darius and Twig. There isn’t a heavy emphasis on narrative, which allows the truth of the characters to shine through.

The honest conversations between Darius and Twig about their desire to get out of the neighborhood, and whether it’s ultimately fair for them to leave instead of staying to try and help, are powerful.

Use this book to help students explore issues such as overcoming past bad choices and limiting circumstances, the power of a support system, community action, and dealing with bullies and violence.