Playground by 50 Cent
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I'm pretty sure there was a ghostwriter involved, but the tone sounds like something an "internationally famous" rapper would write. And while I was expecting a fictionalized account of what "50"'s life was like it didn't appear to be that (although I admit I don't know much about his life). At times there was a slight moralizing tone, possibly because the author wanted to point out that there are other ways than his to get through childhood.
"Butterball" is a fat black kid who has been moved from the Bronx to Garden City by his mother. Because she transferred him to his new school in October, he stood out and found it difficult to make friends - except for one kid, Maurice, who was nice to him. We open with him in a psychologist's office, where he's been sentenced to go at least twice a week as a condition of not being expelled. What had he done? Beaten up his one friend, Maurice.
As the book unwinds, we slowly learn his motivation for the beating; we also see him start to grow and realize that he's got options other than being a bully. While most of the time this was realistically portrayed, there were times when you could feel the author's hand guiding the book (see "moralizing tone" above). I don't know how realistic the intended reader will find this, but it will probably go over well with middle grade boy readers.
ARC provided by publisher.