Book Review: Gangsta Lean
Book Cover Will be Added Soon
Book Reviewed by Linda Watkins
Debut novel, Gangsta Lean, penned by Rochan Morgan is one of the few chronologically tight stories written by a new author this year. It is so tight that it can become annoying. The chapters have sub chapters forcing too much scene transaction, showing more than they tell, leaving little wiggle room for the reader's imagination. The layout is more appropriate for a screen play than a novel. Still, it does follow a sometimes confusing story accurately.
Set in Galveston, Texas, Morgan attempts to portray the challenging struggle of growing up in the inner city through the eyes of a male teenager and the reasoning for the choices he makes. However, the author never gives the reader a sense of the apparent reasons for the choices to be made. They are certainly not the reasons sited in the synopsis on the back cover.
It begins the morning after the Duce-nine initiation beat down of Allen ’Pooney’ Richards, Morgan's fifteen year old main character. Why he joins the gang at this time of his life is not explained. Though humorous and believable at times he needs work. His reasoning is slanted a little too much to the left and his anger unwarranted as are many of his actions. Typical young males will have a problem relating to Pooney. He is too wishy-washy as to where his loyalty lays and generally what he is thinking. Even the manner in which he deals with his sister, girlfriend and mother are unrealistic at times. He has no real heart for the part he plays. This is no raw street novel. It's too clean for reality. Nor is it a pick for a juvenile readership . . . the profanity kills that as does the overly used collegiate words that will make a reader pull out the Webster from time to time.
This story is really busy. In between trying to figure out Pooney, his relationship with his wanna-be-thug buddies, the gang leader and plenty of other mind bogging dilemmas, the reader will meet his younger sister, Sheila, one of the numerous sub characters. She is almost too nice and a bit of a nerd, though funny and a fairly believable character. His mother, Regina, displayed as a fully functional single mother, is weak at best. Her friend Renee, a total trip and Taye, his girlfriend is cast as a slut-hoochie-mama-perfect-girlfriend all rolled into one with drama of her own that interrupts the story periodically drawing the spotlight away from Pooney, as do a host of other characters too numerous to list.
All in all, Gangsta Lean has great potential. It is a good attempt for a story that can provide some much needed insight into the world and mind of young males growing up in urban communities. With a few changes and an edit it could also have a large impact on the adult audience who wishes to understand the issues of the youth. If you don't mind a few spelling errors and big words and can handle all the switching . . . Pick it up. Give it a try. You won’t be entirely disappointed. The positives really outweigh the negatives on this one.