Book Review: Show and Prove by Sofia Quintero


23395349By Cecilia Cackley

DESCRIPTION: (from Goodreads):

The summer of 1983 was the summer hip-hop proved its staying power. The South Bronx is steeped in Reaganomics, war in the Middle East, and the twin epidemics of crack and AIDS, but Raymond “Smiles” King and Guillermo “Nike” Vega have more immediate concerns.

Smiles was supposed to be the assistant crew chief at his summer camp, but the director chose Cookie Camacho instead, kicking off a summer-long rivalry. Meanwhile, the aspiring b-boy Nike has set his wandering eye on Sara, the sweet yet sassy new camp counselor, as well as top prize at a breakdancing competition downtown. The two friends have been drifting apart ever since Smiles got a scholarship to a fancy private school, and this summer the air is heavy with postponed decisions that will finally be made.

Raw and poignant, this is a story of music, urban plight, and racial tension that’s as relevant today as it was in 1983.

MY TWO CENTS: You know when you read a book and the elements are familiar but still feel entirely new and fresh? That’s this book. There are so many different ways you can read it! It’s a summer book about camp trips and hanging out with friends and neighbors. It’s a relationship book about negotiating feelings and mistakes and tragedy. It’s a political book, examining identity and racism and bias in a way that never feels forced. It’s a slice of history, transporting the reader to a specific moment in the history of hip-hop and showing the importance of that music to teenagers of the time. This book will make you head straight for You Tube to listen to the songs that are mentioned and watch videos of breakdancing, I promise. Quintero doesn’t shy away from presenting her two narrators as stubborn and sometimes self-centered. But however much they screw up, you never stop rooting for them to fix their mistakes and follow their dreams. Show and Prove releases July 14, 2015.

TEACHING TIPS: There have been quite a few YA books set in the 80’s lately, so it would be fun to compare and see what world events and pop culture references show up in each one. Show and Prove also provides a great starting point for class discussions about racism, poverty and marginalized communities. This would be a fun literature complement to a music or arts class studying hip-hop as well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR (from Amazon): After graduating from Columbia University with a BA in history-sociology and an MPA from its School of International and Public Affairs, Sofia Quintero began her first career as a policy analyst and advocate. She worked for various nonprofit organizations and government agencies including the Vera Institute of Justice, Hispanic AIDS Forum, and the New York City Independent Budget Office. After years of working on diverse policy issues, however, Sofia heeded her muse to pursue an entertainment career.

Determined to write edgy yet intelligent novels for women who love hip hop even when hip-hop fails to love them in return, Sofia wrote her debut novel Explicit Content under the pen name Black Artemis. Booklist said of her debut, “Fans of Sister Souljah’s The Coldest Winter Ever will find this debut novel just as tantalizing. . .” Since then Sofia has authored four more novels and almost twice as many short stories and novellas including her award-winning young adult debut Efrain’s Secret (Knopf 2010.)

She recently earned an MFA in writing and producing TV at the TV Writers Studio of Long Island University and contributed the children’s anthology What You Wish For, the proceeds of which go to build libraries for Darfuri children in Chad. Her journalistic writings have been published in Urban Latino, New York Post, Ms., Cosmopolitan for Latinas and El Diario/La Prensa.

As an educator, she is a writing mentor at Urban Word NYC, a teaching artist at the National Book Foundation’s reading program BookUpNYC and the co-publisher of the hip-hop feminist curriculum Conscious Women Rock the Page. Sofia was nominated for the Women’s Media Center Social Media Award in 2010.

RESOURCES: Pinterest page by the author:

I couldn’t find any other interviews or resources out right now. However, Sofia Quintero told me on Twitter that she’s working on a cultural dictionary app and a You Tube playlist of all the songs mentioned.

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT Show and Prove visit your local library or bookstore. Also, check out WorldCat.orgIndieBound.orgGoodreadsAmazon, and Barnes & Noble.


Cackley_headshotCecilia Cackley is a performing artist and children’s bookseller based in Washington DC where she creates puppet theater for adults and teaches playwriting and creative drama to children. Her bilingual children’s plays have been produced by GALA Hispanic Theatre and her interests in bilingual education, literacy, and immigrant advocacy all tend to find their way into her theatrical work. You can find more of her work at