Cover Image: Last Summer on State Street

Last Summer on State Street

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Member Reviews

I read this book in one sitting. It was super compelling, powerful, and one that I'm glad to have read!
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✨ Review ✨ Last Summer on State Street by Toya Wolfe

In this book, we jump right into 1990s in building 4950 of Chicago's Robert Taylor Homes, getting the feeling of life in the moment of great change as the Chicago Housing Authority is demolishing these projects. Twelve-year-old FeFe and her friends also experience great change in this coming-of-age story, as they're torn between family and friendship, religion and gang life, and just trying to stay safe in a turbulent environment. As they share candy and Double Dutch, all of the four friends experience traumatic things that summer.

The book challenged me to think about youth and the projects and the trauma one might encounter, but also the power and possibility of education and opportunity. The book walks that line between optimistic human agency and declensionist doom to show the range of possibilities for kids in the projects. The book did such a good job at setting the scene but also in creating rich characters and compelling relationship dynamics.

It's also a short read - 212 pages or 6 hours on audio (the audio is great!) and it's a powerful historical fiction read!

Genre: historical fiction
Setting: 1999 Chicago - Robert Taylor Homes
Reminds me of: Jacqueline Woodson
Pub Date: 2022

Thanks to William Morrow and #netgalley for an advanced e-copy of this book!
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This isn't a purchase for my library because most of the content is too mature for my population. However, this book was a fascinating and emotional read.
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BOOK: Last Summer on State Street
GENRE: Contemporary Fiction
RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
THOUGHTS: What a powerful read! I’ve had my eye on this one for quite some time and I’m so glad I gave it a listen. It  entwines race, friendship, community, family, and resilience into a quick, powerful coming-of-age story. It’s a fantastic debut & my qualm was that I wanted more! I wanted the story to go deeper and expand the relationships and situations that arose for our MCs. While I so greatly appreciated the book for what it was, I think it had the potential to be exceptional! 
Thank you @williammorrowbooks @netgalley for my #gifted copy!
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A tender and touching coming of age story set in Chicago. FeFe, the main character, lives in a housing apartments that will be torn down. A short story with depth.
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Wow!  Last Summer on State Street pulled me in from the first page, and I read the book within a day--I could not put it down!  The story is told through the viewpoint of Felicia, a 12 year old girl living in public housing in Chicago,  Felicia is a well-developed, caring character who deals with the gang and drug-related violence during the summer of 1999.  Despite the heartbreaking events, the story also includes moments of hope, provided by a supportive teacher and positive family members.  This book definitely is a five star read!
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In 1999, Felicia "Fe Fe" Stevens and her friends are pre-teens living in the projects in Chicago. Their building is going to be torn down. Her friends, Precious Brown and Stacia Buchanan jump rope together. When a new friend, Tonya, is invited to their group, Stacia isn't happy. 
The book traces their lives over the summer.  Fe Fe's mother wants her to avoid some of these girls due to their family environment. As Fe Fe remembers the summer, she remembers her mother and her gang member brother, her devout friend Precious, the hardness of Stacia, and the loneliness of Tonya. When Tonya disappears from the group, Fe Fe tries to reach out to her, but Tonya's mother doesn't help. It isn't until years later that Fe Fe discovers what happened that summer. 
A sad coming-of-age story.
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Fantastic book! I absolutely loved Last Summer on State Street, and recommend it highly to all of my friends. Loved this one!
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This month the #literarylovelies read Last Summer on State Street! This incredible book was one of many we received as a part of @bookclubgirl. We loved being included in their wonderful program and we generously received many gifted books. 

The book tells the story of 12 yr old Fe Fe, a young girl growing up with a single mother in the projects of the South South side of Chicago. All the neighboring buildings in the community are being torn down and Fe Fe is concerned her family isn’t “lease compliant” so they can move to a nice and safer neighborhood. She’s friends with Stacia, a who comes from a notorious gang family and Precious, a who comes from religious family is the only one with a father in the picture. They love sunshine, ice pops and double Dutch jump rope. 

One day Fe Fe sees another girl their age and invites her to jump rope with them. But Tonya isn’t exactly like them and has the saddest story of them all. Her mother is an addict and Tonya is often unclean and hungry. Despite this, she’s sweet and loves her new friends. The girls building is a hot bed of crime activity, gunshots, drugs and just not a place for families. 

The book follows Fe Fe from this summer up through her college career where she studies to help others in unfortunate situations.

The book is very heavy, but beautifully told. Toya Wolfe is a debut novelist and she wrote what she knows, growing up in Chicago too. It’s a short book, but it definitely packs a punch. It hurt my heart knowing what these girls went through. They had to grow up much too fast and should been able to enjoy childhood and have a safe environment. One note to point out- they have a teacher, Ms Pierce, who really inspired them throughout their lives. It’s a beautiful part that a teacher had such a lasting impact.

Thank you so much to @williammorrowbooks @toyawolves and Book Club Girl for my gifted copy. This is a must read.
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This heart-breaking coming of age novel, narrated by Felicia, tells the story of four friends living in Chicago’s housing projects in the summer of 1999. Twelve year old Felicia (Fe Fe), Precious, and Stacia spend their days jumping rope at the Robert Taylor Homes. The dynamics of their relationship change when Tonya joins their group. They are in the midst of gangs, drug-dealing, and oppressive poverty, but are able to enjoy their time together. One by one the buildings in the project are being torn down, and by the end of the summer all will have to relocate. As the neighborhood falls apart, so do their friendships and families. The writer skillfully and realistically describes the escalating threats and the tragedy that results, along with the hope and resilience of those who survived the environment.
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I felt this book was super sad and personaI, however it needed a content/trigger warning. I have mental illness and wanted to give the young protagonists a hug
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What an amazing debut novel! The story was hauntingly beautiful and opens readers eyes to a section of Chicago we will likely never experience. I found my self falling in love with FeFe and her whole family. When Meechie joined the gang, I think of piece of my heart tore off. All the characters were so real and tugged at the readers heart strings. I really found myself wanting more of the book and could have kept reading for 500 more pages. 

Will 100% read whatever Toya Wolfe comes out with next!
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Last Summer on State Street is a haunting coming-of-age story recommended for Jacqueline Woodson and Brit Bennett fans. If you can get the audiobook for this one, Shayna Small delivers a magnificent performance that added to the storytelling aspect of this moving novel. 

It is the summer of 1999, and four girls' jump rope games play amidst the backdrop of gun violence, gang wars, drugs, sexual abuse and teenage pregnancy.

Set in the housing projects of Chicago, this tells the story of four girls living there as each family faces their unique challenges. We explore this story through the eyes of Fe Fe (Felicia), Precious, who she has known forever, Stacia, who she has known for one year, and Tânia, who they meet while playing Double Dutch. 

The neighborhood faces demolition, and the families hope for relocation to a different apartment block. This added tension of displacement coupled with the viewpoint of these girls really helps the reader feel as immersed and unsteady as the characters.  

Toya Wolfe writes like a seasoned writer, not a debut novelist, and uses her life story to shape these pages. She grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago's South Side. It is hard to remember you are not reading a memoir because of the detailed intimacy in her storytelling.

The author chose the jump rope as a narration tool because they are woven and intertwined, reminding her of a visual for friendship. They also can capture someone and hold on to them, which is what plays out in our themes. 

The poetic writing yielded an incredible audiobook performance that really enhanced this story and helped me discover my next go-to audiobook narrator.
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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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