by Claudia Rojas
Darius & Twig will keep teens and young adults completely hooked with its endearing storytelling and high school boys. It’s easy to like the story’s simple narration and the main character, Darius, who has a writer’s imagination. It’s also unexpected to see Darius as the best friend of an athlete, but their relationship has the very real quality and growth of friendship.
The story of Darius and Twig begin with college applications and dreams on the horizon. The backdrop is a diverse student body in Harlem, subject to bullying and violence. Darius is best friend with Twig, who is a skilled track runner with potential for an athletic scholarship. Both boys have to deal with the consequences of wanting to pursue college dreams in a community that has different dreams for them: dreams without college degrees, with drug addictions, and sometimes, with jail time.
Darius is a character defined by his reactions to the events around him. He is in a stressful home life, and Twig faces family pressure against attending college. Twig is both intimidated and energized by the competition in the sport industry. Darius loves to see Twig run, but his true passion and talent is writing. Darius is hopeful that publishing a short story in a college magazine will boost his “average” student profile. Although they experience an intense course of events, the boys do an admirable job of confiding in one another and supporting each other’s dreams. They are each other’s biggest fans. Together, they must learn to survive and understand Midnight, one of several bullies at school.
The novel has a unique storytelling technique where chapters are opened by brief italicized text that tells Darius’ daydreams of being a powerful falcon. Throughout the novel, Darius also makes references to the story about a dolphin and a boy, which he is in the process of revising. This storytelling was a personal favorite because there were doses of subplots, extra stories.
Over the course of the novel, Darius and Twig teach you what it means to be the best version of yourself. The boys must learn to overcome bullies that use mild profanity, fist fights, or intimidation. There is also the chance encounter with guns and shootings. Not all readers will connect with these events, and the narrative is sometimes rushed, but this novel is a strong reminder of the lives lived beyond the reader’s immediate place in society. It’s a timely novel to read.
Darius & Twig get 4 stars.