Darius & TwigHigh above the city, above the black tar rooftops, the dark brick chimneys spewing angry wisps of burnt fuel, there is a black speck making circles against the gray patchwork of Harlem sky. From the park below it looks like a small bird. No, it doesn’t look like a small bird, but what else could it be? At the end of a bench, a young man holds up a running shoe. 

New York Times bestselling author and current National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature Walter Dean Myers was asked to write a novel about friendship by his fans. Here it is. Darius is a writer struggling to find his own way, with only his alter ego, Fury, a peregrine falcon, and Twig, his best friend, in his corner. Twig, a middle-distance runner, has the skills to make it but wants to dictate his own terms for success. He may be a winner on the track, but it doesn’t stop him from getting picked on. For these friends, money is tight; there are bullies and absent adults and, most disturbing, the notion that their Harlem life doesn’t have much to offer. They need to navigate their world: the thugs, the seamy side of sports, the uncertainty of their prospects. And they need to figure out how to grow up together, but apart. This raw teen novel is the latest from highly acclaimed award-winning author Walter Dean Myers.”

I enjoyed Darius and Twig, which I received from Goodreads First Reads. It was definitely raw, as it was described, and lyrical and poetic and moody. It didn’t resonate deeply with me, but there were some interesting passages and thoughts expressed. Walter Dean Myers has written many YA novels, but I’ve never read any of them. I have, however, read some of his poems in Here in Harlem

I really liked how the two main characters and their relationship, really the central part of the story, were portrayed. As I said, none of it deeply touched me, and it somehow didn’t feel all that real, but I still liked Darius and Twig. It’s a very short book, but marked as 8th grade and up, because there is some swearing and some hard things that happen in the book. 

I feel like Myers did a really great job also of describing the way the adults in the story pressure Darius and Twig to be a certain way. There’s Twig’s uncle, who wants him to give up his dreams and work at the store. But even the good adults in the story, like Darius’s writing teacher, want him to change his writing to the way they like it. Which is good and bad at the same time. I also thought that the story that Darius was working on was very interesting, and a lot of the events that happened in Darius and Twig were very meaningful. It’s set in the present day, yet there are still all these awful things that happen in Harlem. I don’t know if it’s entirely realistic, but it’s certainly compelling. 

Overall, I didn’t love Darius and Twig, but I did like it, and I would certainly recommend this “raw teen novel”. It was really absorbing, actually, because the events just kept coming, and although they were on a small scale, like Austen’s work, that made them all the more interesting. The reader gets caught up in these two boys’ stories and their lives, and wants to know more, and whether everything is going to work out for them. Darius and Twig is definitely an intense read. 

I may read some of Myers’s other books in the future, though I’m not really eager to find them. 

Read Darius and Twig:

  • if you like Walter Dean Myers
  • if you like teen stories
  • if you like books set in Harlem

201 pages. 

Very Good! I would recommend this book!