Nowhere to Run

Claire J. Griffin

”How ’bout lettin’ Calvin keep his knees on loan?”

”Meanin’ what?”

”Meanin’ you let him walk, and then his knees owe you. Like maybe he’s favored
to win the District Championship next spring. Some dudes are layin’ bets. You
say Calvin’s gonna lose. And he does.”

”I own Calvin’s knees.” Norris said the words slowly, like they tasted good in his
mouth. He smiled and nodded. ”Okay, Deej. I like that.” He glared at Calvin. ”Don’t forget, punk.”

When you’ve got a friend who’s got your back, life is good. Calvin has Deej—and
a coach who thinks Calvin can win the championship in the 100-meter dash,
a little brother who looks up to him, a boss who trusts him with the keys to
the car shop, and Momma, who made him promise to stay in school. And then
there’s Junior, the girlfriend of Calvin’s dreams. You have to take things slow
with Junior, since she’s daddy’s girl, but she’s worth it.

But when Calvin and Deej get suspended from school on a trumpedup
charge, things start to fall apart. Deej entangles them both in Norris’s web,
and suddenly Calvin has tough choices to make. Can he hold on to what he’s
got without turning his back on his best friend?




  • Ages: 12 and up
  • Grades: 7 - 12
  • Pages: 118

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Recent Reviews

7 From the first taut page, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a happy story.... The deliberately ambiguous conclusion will leave engrossed readers weighing Calvin’s options and making their own hard decisions for him. Dialogue, situations, relationships and issues all ring pitch perfectly but ever so discouragingly true. This brief debut packs a serious punch and will leave readers stunned with Calvin’s grim options.


Set in Washington, DC, Griffin's first novel looks at the price of loyalty, the forces that conspire against good kids from bad neighborhoods, and the frustration of being seen as a stereotype. ... [R]eaders will identify with Calvin's desire to make something of himself.

—Publishers Weekly

Griffin’s third-person narrative meticulously delineates street life in one African American neighborhood and creates flesh-and-blood characters with dreams, faults, and uncertainties. Calvin is a likable protagonist, and it’s how he will decide between loyalty to his best friend and his own goals that provides the tension for this strong story.

— The Horn Book Magazine

Though the novel is short, it has a densely packed plot. Griffin convincingly shows how Calvin is stuck in many ways. Meeting Junior opens him up to thinking about his future, not just in new ways, but thinking about it, period. He constantly tries to make the right choices, but misguided loyalty often steers him wrong. Though the plot can feel heavy-handed at times, the message of standing up for yourself and making your own right choices is an important one. 3Q 4P J S

—Voice of Youth Advocates

A gritty description of the impoverished and war-torn streets around Washington, DC’s Harry Truman High School helps readers empathize with Calvin’s ambiguous sense of right and wrong. At times, adults such as Coach Albert and Granny Henry are portrayed as caring but helpless to have much influence over the turf wars and allegiances of the young male characters. .... The dialogue-driven, predictable urban drama will appeal to reluctant readers, who will be satisfied with this first novel’s short length and mature situations.

—School Library Journal