Very impressive debut! This book was about three teenage boys growing up in Brooklyn and the challenges that entails. Although he came from a broken home and was raised by a single mother who had to work two jobs just to make ends meet, Ali was a really good kid. He was a loving and protective big brother, a loyal friend, and showed strong character when faced with adversity. In most realistic YA fiction, it seems the good kid is always being brought down by the troubled kid. In this book, it was a refreshing change to see the good kid, Ali, have a positive impact on his best friend Noodles. As painful as it must have been to watch his best friend reap what he sowed, Ali knew that his friend needed to suffer those consequences in order to bring about a change in his life. It made my heart smile to see the transformation of Noodles from selfish, angry, cocky kid to humble, apologetic, sincere brother and friend. It was a feel good story that I finished in two sittings. Highly recommended for all ages!