Ghetto Cowboy is a work of fiction, though it is based on actual urban cowboys from the Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Queens areas. In fact G. Neri first learned about these cowboys while reading an article in Life magazine called "Street Cowboys." I like his title much better - Ghetto Cowboy.
A quick setup to the story: The main character, Cole, has been badly misbehaving back in Detroit. He has gotten in so much trouble, his mom, who is raising him alone, decides to deliver him to the father he didn't even know existed in Philadelphia, hoping that a man's influence would benefit Cole. His dad's name is Harper and he helps maintain a stable in the ghettos of Philadelphia where they take in horses of all kinds. For a hard-nosed, urban kid like Cole, this is all just a little bit too much to absorb.
I loved this book for so many reasons, but one of the biggest reasons is it reminded me so much of the Christopher Paul Curtis's books, The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy.
- All of these books have urban settings as a backdrop.
- In addition, all these books use a dialect that matches both the characters and the settings.
- In each book, the main characters have fallen upon hard times of some sort.
- There is a journey that needs to take place in all of these stories, both a physical journey and a journey for the main characters to find out a critical piece of who they really are.
- All these stories rely on the some quirky secondary characters to help the main characters on their journey of self-discovery.