"[Allison] van Diepen has created a
compelling, morally challenging, and emotionally rewarding
work. Street Pharm is precisely the kind of book that will
draw young readers and, more importantly, keep them reading.
Street Pharm is a daring book, a gripping read that can
be enjoyed as much by adults as by YA readers. With skilled
characterization, tight plotting, and a sensitive ear for
the language of the streets, Street Pharm is a remarkable
— Quill and Quire (Starred
"There is plenty of swearing, violence,
and raunchy topics scattered in the dialogue and the action
because this book takes a realistic look at life in a dangerous
urban neighborhood. The author researched this story while
working in a perilous inner-city Brooklyn high school. It
is an eye-opening account of a nice kid who is caught between
two worlds and has to make some tough decisions. It also
conveys a poignant message for reluctant readers."
"This book, set in inner-city Brooklyn,
pushes the envelope of edgy writing for teens. Now that
his dad is in jail, 17-yr old Ty is running the family business
– dealing drugs – and trying to keep the source
of his income secret. When a new dealer tries to take over
his business, a turf war begins. Ty tries to do the right
thing for the business and his father, but when it’s
life and death, he may have to change his business plan.
This doesn’t feel like a young-adult book –
it’s gritty, the slang rings true and the story is
not pretty. Maybe that’s why it works."
— Taylor Morris, Romantic Times
"Allison van Diepen drew on her experiences
as a social studies teacher at one of Brooklyn's most dangerous
public high schools. What resulted is her first novel, STREET
PHARM, a gripping story about a teen drug dealer, Ty Johnson,
with a serious reputation on the streets. The book's message
is strong and its story is captivating."
— Faze Magazine
"Van Diepen's keen eye and ear bring
the teens' world to life: hip hop, clothes, customs, thoughts
and culture. The author skillfully captures the social,
physical and emotional costs of a young drug lord trying
to keep it together in an unsettling urban landscape."
— David Goldberg, Globe and
Tyrone Johnson, Self-Made Man
"What are you gonna be when you grow up?" That's what
most kids got asked.
Mom always asked me what I wasn't gonna be, and you know what
she wanted me to say?
A dealer, stealer, free-wheeler, player, hater, a downright dog
- that's what my dad was.
When I came home from school, Mom was on the couch watching Dr.
Phil. As usual.
"How was school, baby?"
"Good." No way I was gonna tell her I got kicked out.
Really ass-to-the-curb kicked out this time. Starting tomorrow,
I was supposed to show up at some alternative school.
"You working hard?"
"Yeah." Sweet, clueless Mom never noticed that I hadn't
carried a book bag since the ninth grade.
"There's beef patties in the oven."
I checked the clock: 3:37 PM. She'd be getting up from the sofa
in about three minutes, getting ready for fifteen, and out the
door in twenty.
When the commercial came on, Mom went to her room. I attacked
the patties, only stopping to add more ketchup. A few minutes
later, she came back into the kitchen in her grocery store uniform,
her name tag already pinned on like she was proud or something.
"You working tonight?" she asked me.
"Yeah." I gave up my cheek for a kiss while guzzling
o.j. and she threw on her coat and hurried out the door.
Mom thought I worked at The Flatbush Sports Club on Atlantic
Avenue. I ain't worked there a day in my life - but the manager
owed me. He was one of my customers.
Time to get down to this brother's real bread-and-butter.
I took out my cell and speed-dialed Sonny.
What the fuck's going on? Why'd you turn off your cell?"
"Mind your business. What's going on?"
"I need your help, son. Tonight we got us some deliveries."
"Already got some."
"Well I got more for you."
I wrote the stuff in my Palm Pilot.
"Hold up," I said, "who's this Schultz guy?"
"A new customer I met last week. Told him we was getting
a shipment with the hottest shit this side of Bogota. He gonna
drop five Gs!" "You ain't kidding. How'd he find out
"In the fucking yellow pages."
"Seriously, Sonny, who told him?"
"Who? Shit, like he was gonna tell me! What, you think his
friend wants a finder's fee or something?"
"Listen, if you so confident about him, you make the delivery."
"Can't, I promised Desarae we'd see a late movie. Schultz
wants the stuff at ten."
"I'm not making this delivery unless you gimme some reason
to think he ain't a cop."
"Ty, this guy ain't 5-0. Don't you think I can sniff out
a cop by now?"
"I ain't risking my neck on your sense of smell, Sonny.
Tell Michael Brown to make the delivery."
That little brother'd win the award for the most eager young
hustler in Flatbush.
Fourteen years old.
"A'ight, I'll tell Michael," Sonny said. "He can
drop some stuff off at the Wilkes place too."
That was what I liked about Sonny. He talked the shit, but when
push came to shove, he always backed down. He knew the game was
in my blood.
STREET PHARM TRAILER
A talented young film student in San Francisco
has made a Street
Pharm trailer. It's a dark and gritty interpretation of Street
Pharm, and I was incredibly impressed. Be warned, though: it is
only appropriate for mature viewers due to violent content.