Bad Decisions Shatter Innocence on ``Rooftop.''Wednesday, February 23, 2011 By Latreace Simmons
Cousins Clay and Addison were like brothers who grew up together in the projects until they were separated by a family argument. Fate intervenes; however, and they are reunited in a drug-treatment program where they agree to work out their issues. One night, a wrong decision leaves Clay in shock and Addison dead. In events that follow, only Clay knows the truth of what actually happened on the rooftop of the apartment building that led to Addison’s death. Paul Volponi’s novel Rooftop gives striking insight into a boy’s mind, who must choose between the truth and satisfying the community; who ultimately learns what it means to be a man. Clay has been caught smoking pot by his parents and is arrested and sent to a drug-treatment program called Daytop. His cousin Addison, on the other hand, has been sent to Daytop for the distribution of drugs. The two are happy to be back together, but there is tension because Addison still lives in the projects and is constantly tempted with the ways of drug life, while Clay’s dad was able to save up enough money to move his family out of the projects. Although Clay's home life is not as tough as Addison's, he is still surrounded by temptation on the streets and in school; as he struggles to stay clean and pass his drug tests. However, he is seemingly doing better. One day, Clay is out running with Addison and they encounter a boy named Clerox, who owes Clay money. They chase him onto a rooftop; where Clerox eventually escapes. However, Clay and Addison are met by the police. As Clay hides, he watches as Addison grabs his wallet and fakes it as a gun. The cops open fire, and Addison is hit by a fatal shot to the chest. Having a seemingly innocent kid killed by the police does not sit well in the community; and family and friends are out to send the guilty cop to jail and Clay is called to testify. He knows that Addison didn’t deserve to be shot by the police; but he also knows that he was not completely innocent. In the end, the book does not tell exactly what choice Clay decided to make. After a constant battle in his head, it can be inferred that Clay decides to tell the truth about what really happened on the rooftop. The novel was excellent in that Volponi spoke in an urban voice, presenting the truth in black and white. Racial issues were clearly evident throughout the book; and Volponi did nothing to attempt to hide that fact. The book was easy to read and understand and the plot flowed with undying excitement. As I read the book, I could truly understand each emotion that the characters felt. I felt Addison’s frustration about being dealt difficult cards in life; and Clays fear and confusion about whether or not he should be a man and tell the truth, or be loyal to his family and the community. The novel serves as a shocking contrast of the pressures placed on teens who grow up in the projects and provides a realistic if not wholly satisfying conclusion.