on June 22nd, 2018
I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Tristan Lopez is loyal to his brothers. He doesn’t really have a choice, born into a gang that has a chokehold on every kid that roams its streets. He gave his life to them willingly, knowing if he did then one day this kingdom, led by boys drunk with power and ruled by fear, would all be his.
He was loyal through it all. Loyal when prison took his dad away. Loyal when his face was touched by the cold metal of the rival gang’s gun. Loyal even though his mom begged him to run the moment she returned home from rehab.
He thought about becoming someone else. It was hard not to crave the life of a regular 17-year-old. It’s the only reason he stayed in school—to pretend. But he always fell back in line.
Riley Rojas didn’t belong in Tristan’s real world. She should have only been part of the fantasy, one of the many faces he got to pretend with amidst rows of metal chairs and desks and whiteboards with assignments. But there she was, moving boxes from the back of an old pick-up into a house Tristan had shot up on a dare with his friends only a few months before.
Tall enough to look him in the eyes and strong enough to fill his shadow, Riley took up space on his streets, her loud mouth fearless in the face of the gang leaders who terrified everyone else. She pushed Tristan around on the hard court, and she balled better than his friends—better than him
sometimes. She challenged him. She needed him. He liked it. And when her pale blue eyes stared into his, he quit wanting to pretend.
He couldn’t ask her to leave because she’d only dig her heels in deeper. He couldn’t ask because he didn’t want her to go. She was blurring his lines. She was testing his loyalty.
He was falling in love.
And it was going to tear him apart.
Cry Baby is exactly why I find myself craving YA reads. I return to the genre time and again, as a reboot of sorts, but Cry Baby took my love of YA to a new level. Not only is Ginger Scotts’ writing simply stunning, the story line smart, but there is a profoundness to these characters that grabs the reader and doesn’t let go. I know nothing about gang life, but Ginger Scott made me feel like I was living in the neighborhood, peering into the life of a young man resolved to a desolate future and a girl on the cusp of breaking out and creating that better life.
The story is told from both Tristan’s and Riley’s perspectives giving us a unique view of living in poverty but with different foundations and expectations. I love both characters, but being in Tristan’s head was an altogether unsettling experience. The boy owned me. I couldn’t have rooted for a character more, as he rationalizes with his decisions and the push and pull of emotions he feels for Riley. He weighs everything, every emotion, because he has to. He can’t let the crew in on how he feels, and he tamps down any desire for a future away from where his life started.
Riley, a brave young women if ever there was one. She’s new to the hood and desperately wants to fit in, if only to be able to play basketball. She’s a good enough player that the sport could be her ticket out. When she’s snubbed by the rec players, driven by Tristan and his crew, she shows this group just how bold she is and proudly breaks down Tristan’s walls. The story is perfectly paced and the circumstances of his involvement in a gang and Riley’s protective single father means these two face only uphill battles.
“I don’t belong here. Tristan does. And that has everything to do with the point he just tried to make. I get it; I’m not stupid. I know what he is. I just don’t believe it’s all he is. And I don’t think he does either.”
And so neither did I. Tristan is not what you’d initially think of a BBF material, but there is just such a depth to him, as he struggles to believe he deserves ore
“Riley has opened this window to what I could be. She’s built a bridge between my reality and my fantasyland, and I can’t stop crossing it.”
I just found myself so emotionally involved in their plight. The danger and dread is palpable, and my heart swelled with pride and drowned with grief. Scott doesn’t shy away from heartbreak and I found myself blubbering in tears more than once. I just wanted to see these two lift each other up – to forge a new life in a new place, and remained hopeful when it felt like all was lost. Thank you Ginger for giving us a beautiful love story with two beautiful characters. It’s not too soon for a re-read. I’m just 5++ Stars #MustRead
~Review by Cyndi
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