“A Kirkus Star!” From the first taut page, it’s clear that this isn’t going to be a happy story… Dialogue, situations, relationships and issues all ring pitch perfectly but ever so discouragingly true…The deliberately ambiguous conclusion will leave engrossed readers weighing Calvin’s options and making their own hard decisions for him…This brief debut packs a serious punch.
Set in Washington, D.C., 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.
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
Nowhere to Run … offers a richly detailed and superbly nuanced portrayal of black kids struggling for dignity and self-definition in an often hostile and cruelly indifferent world. Griffin pays her characters the honor of authentic humanity, which means they are not racial stick-figures meant to prove one point or the other, but flesh-and-blood human beings with complicated lives and complex, even contradictory, motives and actions… Nowhere to Run is compelling reading, not just for young adults, but for adults as well.
Michael Eric Dyson
Griffin’s slender first novel manages to pack a considerable emotional punch thanks, in large part, to the development of Calvin as a fully dimensional character who invites reader empathy. …[T]he plot is highly readable and fast paced. An excellent book for reluctant readers and for classroom discussion.
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. … the message of standing up for yourself and making your own right choices is an important one.
Voice of Youth Advocates
This is a solid, gritty tale of African-American youth that combines sympathy with serious urban edge. The last-second, high-road resolution is somewhat abrupt and not entirely convincing, but it’s the extraordinary tension surrounding a good kid up against bad odds that easily trumps the questionable ending. Slim, taut, and powerful, this is a strong choice for a YA quick pick.
The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
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