Growing up in a ghetto is a hard life for a kid. The dangers of gangs, crime, and drugs are all around. It is especially daunting when a gang has their sights set on you to join them. And won’t take no for an answer.

Discover the powerful story of Naz Anderson as he struggles to protect his little sister in this harsh environment while avoiding the gang hell-bent on recruiting him. He’ll need to use all of his wits and his new found special abilities to stay out of trouble.

IA: Initiate by John Darryl Winston

IA: Initiate

Author: John Darryl Winston

Series: IA (book 1)

Paperback: 220 pages

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook, audiobook

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Thirteen year old Naz and his little sister Meridian were orphans. They shuffled from foster home to foster home in sprawling ghetto known as the Exclave. Life was hard, but at least they had each other. Naz felt a responsibility to take care of his little sister, even though she was a certified genius. He was just a regular kid dreaming to one day get out of the Exclave. Except that he had a mysterious past clouded by repressed memories.

His survival strategy for getting through the day without any trouble was to keep his head down and pretend he was invisible. For a while, this worked and he was left alone by teachers, bullies, and drug dealers. But on his first day attending Lincoln Middle School, Naz and his friends were cornered by two gang members while walking to school. They wanted them to join their gang and wouldn’t accept no for an answer. A fight breaks out and by the end, his friend is stabbed and on the way to the hospital.

This stirs an awakening inside Naz. He begins to hear voices and has a growing feeling that he has unique abilities. Almost special powers. While settling in at his new school, Naz juggles life between keeping up his grades, holding down a new job, challenging the chess wizard in the park, and continuing to avoid the gang determined to have him join them.

As his forgotten memories come back to him, he learns more about his father and his own super powers. Soon, he must accept the inevitable faceoff with the gang and use his new abilities to defeat them.

IA: Initiate is a must read for all young readers of middle grade books. It is action packed with a deep, personal core. I especially loved the touching relationship between Naz and his sister. I could feel the love and genuine back and forth between the siblings. I highly recommend this excellent book.

Be sure to read my other reviews of books in IA series:

IA: Initiate
IA: B.O.S.S.
IA: Union