After witnessing his 10-year-old brother get killed in a crossfire between rival gang members on Philadelphia's north side in August of 1994, Junior and his family relocate to Brooke's Rowe on the south side of town. He tries to cope by making new friends but is rejected by his peers. They mock and humiliate Junior, 14, at school and around his neighborhood. He finds solace in poetry but feels overwhelmed by the complexities of his impoverished community. Meanwhile, the police force is conveniently inept at solving the skyrocketing homicides in Junior's part of town. His rage spirals out of control at school one day when a bully pushes him over the edge. He retaliates, gets expelled and is forced to enroll into Medgar Evers Secondary School; one of the toughest institutions in South Philly. Junior befriends an enigmatic staff member, Casey, who takes an interest in the boy's poetic gifts. Junior's story is a fight for survival and the pursuit of happiness in this urban fiction tale.
Beyond Poetry is an immersive combination of storytelling, poetry and African-American literature told in retrospective detail. Jarelle's novel reads like a motion picture with 1990s vibes on every page.
"I loved this book. I had the opportunity to meet this author at a local event. I was very impressed with his work and ordered this book as soon as I got back home. It was an easy read and especially enjoyed the way the author intertwined prose and poetry. "
"My friend recommended this book, so glad she did. It was a book I couldn’t put down. The story is written so well, the characters so easy to know. It brings up so many topics we need to address in America."
"So first off, I was blown away at how the author's use of imagery puts you at every scene. I was literally able to visualize the details of every page. The storyline is another category in itself. "