Cover Image: Last Summer on State Street

Last Summer on State Street

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Member Reviews

I absolutely adored this story. It was so well written. It had my emotions all over the place but I was so okay with that, I would not have expected anything less than that. It became one of my favorites of 2022 and I hope everyone picks this up, its so worth it. It will teach you about love, friendships, relationships and how to cherish who you are and where you come from.
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Very moving story about 4 middle school age girls growing up in a Chicago housing project in the summer of 1999 while trying to avoid gang violence. I found this somewhat short story riveting. The characters  seemed life like and story believable. 5 stars.
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This relatively short novel manages to pack in a lot, including some difficult scenes. The focus is on a group of young girls living in a public housing project on Chicago's South Side in the summer of 1999. Their building is slated for demolition, and tensions rise in the community as homes around them are torn down. I was intrigued to see the author grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes herself, so I'm glad she is telling this story.
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This short book brought back so many memories for me. In the early 2000s our church youth group went to Chicago from Waco, Tx. We spent a week volunteering at a soup kitchen, the food pantries and Holy Angels school, right by the projects. One of the things that struck me was like how, in the book, she mentions there were no trees. The buildings looked just like you might imagine in the book. And we were told how they were destroying buildings and moving people away. It was shocking to me then, but reading this book from a personal perspective made me really visualize it all happening. 

I got to join a chat with her through KellyHooks.readsbooks and she mentioned how she wanted the cover to look like summer sunsets and the colors girls wear in the summer (with the trees removed - again bc there were no trees). This cover will always remind me of that. 

Lots of triggers in this book: Murder, drug abuse/selling, sexual assault, etc 

Even though it’s short, it packs a lot of punch. It just took me right back.
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A compelling story about a FeFe looking back on her preteen summer in a Chicago neighborhood and how the gentrification and gang rivalries affect her childhood. It is a character driven story about how your childhood can push in a certain direction as you grow up.
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This debut novel about the friendship between 4 middle school age girls in the Robert Taylor Homes (a Chicago housing project) in the summer of 1999, when the Homes are being torn down one by one is what I wanted Deacon King Kong to be. It gave me strong Saving Ruby King with some Transcendent Kingdom and This is My America vibes mixed in. This is a character-driven, slice of life story, but there is action. It's about coming of age amid a hail of gang bullets and is filled with tragedy, but it has heart and hope. The story is tightly told (only 224 pages), but the ending did drag a bit.
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Thank you William Morrow for gifting me an eARC of this book to review. I rarely keep books after I've read them - I prefer to donate most of my books to Little Free Libraries so I don't have too much clutter. On occasion, I'll read a book and like it enough to keep it. This is the first time I have ever read a book in digital form, and then immediately turned around to purchase a hardcover copy of the book, because I needed to own it and have it on my bookshelf whenever I wanted to revisit it or loan it to a friend. That is how great this story was - it's one you will not forget. Set in summer of 1999, from the perspective of a middle schooler in the Chicago projects during the summer that changed her life, this story was powerful. I hope this book is read widely, and it's one that I will certainly be recommending to many.
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I read about 10% and just couldn't get into this one - I've heard fantastic things so I think I'm an outlier.
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I received Last Summer on State Street as an advanced copy. Like most ARCs I receive, I knew very little about this book when I received it. <br /><br />Felicia “Fe Fe” Stevens is living with her mother and brother in the projects of Chicago. All around her buildings are being demolished as urban gentrification continues. Last Summer on State Street explores the lives of FeFe and her family and three other young women who were FeFe's friends that summer. <br />The book explores race, opportunity and how others around you can impact your life, whether for a moment or for a lifetime.
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<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/7695388-kim">View all my reviews</a>
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A coming of age story set in the housing projects of Chicago, Last Summer on State Street tells the story of a young girl trying to grow up and get out of the violent neighborhood of her childhood. It reads like a memoir at times, which I think threw me off a bit. This story is tragic, as well as inspiring, and I wish all young people could have the type of caring adults portrayed in this books to help them rise up to what they want to be.
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Last Summer on State Street is a coming of age story about Felicia (Fe Fe) Stevens, a 12 year old who is spending summer in the Robert Taylor Homes of Chicago before the buildings are torn down, forcing all the residents to relocate elsewhere. She lives there with her loving mom and older teenage brother. Fe Fe jumps rope with a few other girls and they must be cautious of the dangers in their neighborhood including drug addicts and gang members. With all of the activity occurring around them, their friendships are tested. 

The story, set in 1999, is mostly told through Fe Fe’s perspective as a 12 year old then but I enjoyed the adult perspectives too, where she looks back on how living there, and that summer in particular, shaped her life, yet doesn’t solely define her. While Last Summer on State Street is fictional, it felt like a memoir — Debut author Toya Wolfe grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes. I enjoyed reading this moving story and felt for what Fe Fe, her family, and other residents had to endure.
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this story is rich with a history of a Black community that once was - that once had children playing double dutch with bullets, that wedded the most gentle souls to gang life, and left many hungry and abandoned.

i cried and i felt so many emotions while reading this. i wanted more for stacia. i prayed for tonya. i held precious. i admired fe fe. even amongst the devastation and tragedies, I still felt the hope and power of Blackness.
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In my opinion, The Last Summer on State Street is a very moving and memorable novel that will remain with me for a very long time.

This story about a girl coming of age, FeFe, and her three closest pals is set in the Chicago housing projects in the late 1990s. The girls are subjected to a hostile and often traumatic atmosphere that forces them to mature prematurely.

Since the story is presented in retrospect from FeFe's point of view, the reader is treated to the innocence of a kid as well as the occasional wisdom of an adult. This was executed skillfully, and I appreciated knowing right away that FeFe had matured successfully.

There are trigger warnings for child abuse, sexual assault, and gang violence in The Last Summer on State Street, a novel that is nevertheless real, powerful, devastating, and optimistic. I can't believe it's your first book; that's incredible. Toya Wolfe, the author, is a native of the public housing complex that serves as the novel's primary location, as I learned from a little biography I read. Knowing that she was writing from personal experience added a lot to my enjoyment of her work. There was a greater sense of authenticity and depth to the work as a result, in my opinion.
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What a powerful debut novel. Wolfe is able to capture such a specific feeling about Chicago and the neighborhood and the pervasive fear that surrounded it. I am not sure that the structure of an older woman reflecting back on the past always worked, but in the end I was glad to know where each of the characters ended up.
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This one was simply a heartbreaking coming of age story. Taking place in the Chicago projects over a life-changing summer, the novel is about a group of young Black girls Fe-Fe, Precious and Stacia and the new introduction to the group Tonya. The book is incredibly vivid and manages to weave in hard topics so perfectly. Thank you NetGalley and William Morrow for the ARC of this one.
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Compelling story. Great characters. Vivid writing. Very emotional read. Posted a more detailed review on instagram (@mnijaaay_ if the link does not work)
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I am in awe of debut author Toya Wolfe! Last Summer on State Street is a masterpiece! Wolfe has crafted a coming of age story about four twelve-year-old girls who live in the Robert Taylor Homes Project on the south side of Chicago in 1999.  The city is in the process of razing this project one building at a time. This book is only 224 pages but carries a story I will NOT forget. The story is told through the eyes of Fe Fe (Felicia), Fe Fe  introduces us to Precious who she has known forever, Stacia who she has known for a year, and Tânia who they meet while playing double Dutch. The Project seems somewhat normal during the day with children on the playground. Not so later in the day when the gangs take over. The scene of Fe Fe’s family on the floor of their apartment as bullets rattle the building…….I felt like I was there.  I felt like I was a fly on the wall as I watch this story unravel and the girls’ stories unravel. My heart went out to Tonya.  Last Summer on State Street is a must read! My thanks to William Morrow and NetGalley for an ARC of this book. The opinions in this review are my own.
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Last Summer on State Street is a must read - told from a preteen’s perspective in the hot Chicago summer - where a combination of how you grow up and what you choose can change instantly. I was absorbed in Toya Wolfe’s narrative. 

CW: Violence, Poverty, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Drug Use

Thank you to Netgalley and to William Morrow for the ARC.
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Last night I finished LAST SUMMER ON STATE STREET, an incredible debut by TOYA WOLFE.  The novel  focuses on Fe Fe, Precious, Stacia and Tonya, four friends with very different home lives who live in Chicago’s Robert Taylor Homes in 1999, when the city begins to tear down the buildings.   Wolfe has a gift and she gets you into Fe Fe’s head and with her — it’s like you are growing up in a tough situation.  This book moved me to tears at points and really had me thinking about racial inequality and economic disparities.  Most importantly, for me at least, it made me put biases aside and understand why someone would join a gang, why gangs proliferate and how difficult it is resist the storyline that it seems like society has decided for you.  I’m still thinking about it.
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Wow wow wow. First of all, I love this book. Let’s just get that out the way now. Go buy it or put it on hold at your library or strongly hint at a family member to buy it for you. Seriously. LAST SUMMER ON STATE STREET gives heart and reality to the idea of gentrification by pulling back the veil on what it really is: displacement of those who live in emotional and literal peril and poverty on a daily basis. There’s themes of Black girlhood interwoven with the complexities of being Black and poor; and I loved the moments Wolfe gives us of Fe Fe and her friends just being little girls trying to enjoy their summer. 

I loved the stylistic choice of the narrator telling us her story with a measure of hindsight, and it’s always fascinating reading a story where we know, in a larger sense, how it ends. It lends to a sense of foreboding but also allows us to fully focus on the characters and their relationships. We know abstractly where they are headed, but not necessarily how they end up there, and Wolfe does an INCREDIBLE job shepherding us on Fe Fe’s journey. I look forward to more work by this author.

This is perfect for fans of Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams; Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump; Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley; and Lot by Bryan Washington.
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