"A Latinidad® Top
"A 2008 Double
"A 2008 Winter TEEN Mag V.I.T. Pick!"
"Chosen for the 2009 California High School Reading Collection"
"Chosen for The National Book Foundation BookUpNYC Program"
Graffiti art. It's bold. It's thrilling. And it can get a girl into serious trouble...
Raised by her single mom (who's always dating the wrong kind of man) in a struggling California neighborhood, Angel Rodriguez is a headstrong, independent young woman who channels her hopes and dreams for the future into her painting. But when her entry for a community mural doesn't rate, she's heartbroken. Even with winning artist Nathan Ramos--a senior track star and Angel's secret crush--taking a sudden interest in Angel and her art, she's angry and hurt. She's determined to find her own place in the art world, her own way.
That's when Miguel Badalin--from the notorious graffiti crew Reyes Del Norte--opens her eyes to an underground world of graf tags and turf wars. She's blown away by this bad boy's fantastic work and finds herself drawn to his dangerous charm. Soon she's running with Miguel's crew, pushing her skills to the limit and beginning to emerge as the artist she always dreamed she could be. But Nathan and Miguel are bitter enemies with a shared past, and choosing between them and their wildly different approaches to life and art means that Angel must decide what matters most before the artist inside of her can truly break free.
"This is the first step as a member of the crew," he said near my ear, "tagging your name with the rest of us."
He secured his hand tightly over mine and guided me to the wall.
"Wait," I said, hovering the pen a millimeter away from the shed.
"There's no waiting, Angel. You said you wanted me to teach you graf. Well, there's a price. Joining our crew by proving yourself. I don't teach outsiders."
I shook my head. "You said I didn't have to tag." I was still trying to make the shift from hot kiss to this. "Why?" This seemed dumb. What was the purpose? Why was I hesitating? It was just a small tag on an old shed where at least fifty other kids had marked their names. Yet this wasn't what I had in mind by joining the crew. This wasn't what I wanted to be about. I wanted to find my place in the art world. Stretch my creative wings with my culture. To be respected for my work. But defacing school property...
"Do this, or that's it. You're on your own."
On my own. Hadn't I always been?
But a voice inside me whispered that I could finally find a place in the art world with graffiti. I couldn't deny that tagging, marring public property, went against my beliefs of the beauty of art. And yet...I could feel the quick pace of my heartbeat, the excitement I felt with Miguel at my back. With this small test, I would join the crew. Such a small task in order to start becoming a real graffiti writer. To belong. I felt like I stood on the edge of a steep cliff, and down below was Miguel with his arms out saying he'd catch me, but at the same time at my back ready to push me over.
"Come on, Angel," he whispered in my ear. "What's it gonna be?"
I glanced left, then right, trying to see if anyone could see us between the buildings. "I don't know."
"You do know. You know what you want, You want to learn graf. You want to beat that chica in the battle. To prove yourself."
His mouth brushed my ear. "You do."
And he was right.
Miguel pushed our hands toward the wall and I let him. The marker hit the surface.
Taking a breath, I dove head first off that cliff.
I wondered if Miguel would be there to catch me, or if I even wanted him to. I'd always been the type of girl who wanted to land on her own two feet.
© Kelly Parra
Read the first chapter at the Simon & Schuster website!
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A Few Fun Facts About Writing Graffiti Girl...
• Every night, I would have a cup of French Vanilla Cafe coffee while writing late into the night.
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