Books & More from the Teen Scene

Book reviews and other reflections from one of Oregon's young adult librarians

“Rooftop” by Paul Volponi November 18, 2011

Volponi, Paul. Rooftop. New York: Viking, 2006. 199 pp. ISBN: 0670060690

Rooftop cover

Images courtesy of


Estranged cousins Clay and Addison reconnect when they both land in the same day treatment rehabilitation center. As they struggle to manage the program against the pull of the streets, life changes in an horrible instant that leaves Addison dead on a rooftop and Clay unsure how to handle the political circus that overtakes him.


They were already supposed to be at the family night potluck over at Daytop, their day treatment rehabilitation center. But cousins Clay and Addison ran off, chasing that punk Clorox who still owed Addison the money, even though the cops broke up the dice game.

They ran up.

Chasing Clorox to the rooftop.

A wild search.

The sound of footsteps on the stairs.

They turned.

A blaze of gunfire.

A cop’s startled face.

Addison dead at Clay’s feet.

An unarmed black boy shot by a white cop.

Clay is swept into a media and political circus. He is cornered into a lie that leaves him breathless and unsure how to end this thing, how to keep himself going, and how to face what really happened that night in the New York City projects on a lonely Rooftop.

Random thought:

I should recommend this book to Travis, 16. Travis is currently enjoying the books of Laurie Halse Anderson, including Twist, Prom, and Speak. He likes that they talk about high school life and how sometimes people get caught in a situation or make some really bad decisions, but they can still change and get back on the right path. This would be a good fit!

Awards/Honors (source:

  • ALA Best Book Young Adult
  • ALA Quick Pick
  • New York City Library Book for the Teen Age
  • Tayshas List (Texas Library Association)

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