It was 1988, the golden age of rap music where guys sported Run-DMC Kangols with gold medallion necklaces and the girls rocked Salt-n-Pepa asymmetrical hairstyles and large bamboo earrings. 1988 also marked the year of the Seoul Korea Summer Olympics, daddy Bush’s presidential win and President Ronald Reagan's signature on the 'War on Drugs'' bill that cracked down on the death penalty for murderous drug traffickers.
Gena faces the challenges of holding onto Quadir, her comfortable jet-set lifestyle and of course, the money. Both of them find themselves caught up in the viscious cycle of street life and learn the hard way that success in the game is no easy win. Gena and Quadir also learn that once you're in, there's no way out, 'cause everyone stays in forever.’ This message is conveyed eloquently by Woods to the reader through a poem called, ‘Game Anthem’ at the beginning of the story:
As you struggle to hustle, taking gain after loss, don't get discouraged.
Just remember whose boss. Handle your business,
and always watch your back.
Don't sleep on the stick-up boys waiting to attack.
As you creep through the streets, the crack fiends holler.
They've done any and everything just to give you those dollars.
I hope it will last. I hope you make something of it.
Time will tell if something good can come from it.
But as you count the highs, count the lows too, and whatever you do,
forever remain true.
What choice do you have? It's in you by nature.
Your only fault is... Being a player.
Teri Woods, “True to the Game”
True to the Game takes the reader on an emotional roller coaster ride. You feel the pain and rage Gena experiences when she is beaten by her jealous ex-boyfriend Jamal. You also feel the emptiness when she loses her childhood best friend Sahirah to a drive-by shooting.
After reading True to the Game for the second time, I focused more on the strength and wisdom of Quadir and the motherly love of Gena’s grandmother, Gah Git. The poems Gena wrote for Quadir expressed a deep love that a young woman would have for her first true love. The drug dealing rivalries, a kidnapping, and loss of love lead to the unforgettable conclusion to the story. Not to give the story away to those of you that have not read the book, Gena emerges from these events as an older and sadder but also wiser woman.
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