MARY H. WEBB
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Running Into Crime
In 1989, Jasmine Bell, a
fourteen year old rollerskating runaway survives
the streets in
Jasmine's life intersects with that of Catherine Meyer (a Jewish investigative journalist who's writing a series of articles on runaways) and with that of her boyfriend, Leroy Banks, a Black man who has just quit his job at a bookstore and is a "self-appointed investigator of reality."
Between the chapters
are headlines from the era (including many from the
Jasmine's, Leroy's and
Catherine's stories become increasingly intertwined. Leroy gets a job at a
shelter for runaway kids, and Jasmine eventually turns up there. Leroy,
Catherine, and Jasmine run into each other while rollerskating
Jasmine has run from
her aunt's and uncle's home in
Bob Too idolizes Tiger Dog and gives him his good luck piece, a necklace of a pierced quarter on a leather thong. One day the kids find a gun, and Jasmine declares that she is in charge of it. On a night shortly thereafter, Jasmine sees Uncle George and Samantha in a cafe near the squat though he does not see her. She is terrified that he is looking for her, and she rushes home.
That same night Tiger
Dog does not come home at all. He has been out turning tricks. Early the next
morning, Jasmine goes out skating looking for him. She finds his tennis shoe
near a dumpster. She grabs the shoe, goes closer, and discovers him in the
dumpster with his throat slit. She calls the police anonymously and races
back to the squat to tell the others. At the next night, the four
remaining kids hold a symbolic funeral, burying the tennis shoe in
Jasmine is enraged, and she and Maybelline dress up and go out to turn tricks. Once in the car with her "john," however, Jasmine tells him to drive into an alley for some privacy. She then pulls out the gun they had found, takes his money, throws his shoes and car keys into the dumpster and races back to her friends. She then decides to go to the CHRONICLE office to see if she can get help investigating Tiger Dog's murder. Coincidentally, she runs into Catherine there, and Catherine offers to help her if she can.
Carmen Rivera, has a fiftieth birthday party which is a big multi-cultural
bash and brings together all the significant adult characters in the book:
Leroy and Catherine, Carmen Rivera, LaVern Coles
and Wanda Williams and Zev Goldman from
In the meantime, Bob Too has been extorting money from his dad by threatening to expose him as a child molester. Bob Too shows Jasmine his "getaway" money because he feels guilty after seeing her and Maybelline out on the streets. The kids stay at the shelter one night, and Jasmine stays up late and sneaks into the living room to watch "Strangers on a Train" with Leroy and another staff member. She suddenly realizes that Tiger Dog's murder might involve a case of mistaken identity.
Jasmine shares this information with Catherine and also tells her about a man who seems to be following her. Jasmine and Catherine go to Jasmine's neighborhood. The man panics, throws a rock at Jasmine, hits Catherine, and Catherine is able to describe the man to the police.
Soon he is arrested and
confesses that he was hired by Bob Too's father who
did not want his abuse of his son to become public knowledge. Bob takes the
news hard, feeling he caused the murder of his friend. The other kids bring
him to the shelter to talk to Leroy. Leroy helps Bob Too who decides to go
into foster care temporarily until he can become an emancipated minor and
help other kids. Jasmine asks Catherine to adopt her and Jabari.
The 1989 Earthquake scares Maybelline, and she
decides to go and live with her mother's cousin in
Throughout the novel,
Leroy's sister Carla has had to postpone her wedding in
Last updated November 26,2006