It Ain't All for Nothin'

It Ain't All for Nothin'

by Walter Dean Myers


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Life in Harlem isn't easy, but Tippy and his grandmother are doing okay. Then Grandma Carrie gets sick, and Tippy goes to live with Lonnie, his father. Lonnie's got his own thing going on, and he doesn't have much room in his life for a son he barely knows — unless, that is, Tippy is willing to walk the far side of the fine line between right and wrong. Grandma Carrie always said if he had Jesus in his heart there wasn't anything to worry about, but sometimes it's not that simple. When the chips are down, will Tippy be able to call for help — and is there anyone out there who will listen?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780064473118
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/01/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,144,981
Product dimensions: 4.19(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.60(d)
Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Walter Dean Myers was the New York Times bestselling author of Monster, the winner of the first Michael L. Printz Award; a former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature; and an inaugural NYC Literary Honoree. Myers received every single major award in the field of children's literature. He was the author of two Newbery Honor Books and six Coretta Scott King Awardees. He was the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, a three-time National Book Award Finalist, as well as the first-ever recipient of the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

Read an Excerpt

It Ain't All for Nothin' SNYChapter One

Grandma Carrie used to get money from Social Security, and sometimes she did day's work. Things had been going pretty much all right with us. Most of the day's work wasn't really working because she used to go up to the house of a lady she knew real well and they would drink coffee and talk about different things. The lady's name was Mrs. Lilly. I saw her sometimes on Sundays after we got out of church and me and Grandma Carrie would take the subway over to where she lived. She was old like Grandma Carrie, and she was a lot smaller, too. Grandma Carrie was almost as big as a man. She always said when she was young she didn't have time to be studying on being little and things like that — she had to get out and work. She was strong-looking, too. She said when you can't reach around and grab nothing to help you, and you didn't have a man to hold on to, you had to reach inside yourself and find something strong. I guess she must have done that because, like I said, we wasn't doing too bad.

Mrs. Lilly was Jewish and lived clear out in Brooklyn, away from where the black people lived. Me and Grandma Carrie lived on Manhattan Avenue near 125th Street. It used to take us a hour or more to get to Mrs. Lilly's place. She lived in a old building that smelled like it was a museum or something. She had a son somewhere who worked down on Wall Street, and he used to send her money once a week, and he would come to see her about twice a month. Mrs. Lilly told Grandma Carrie that she would like to see him more, but she knew he had a family of his own and everything. She said sometimes she spent all day thinking about if she shouldcall him or not, then when she did call him she wouldn't even know what to say. She said he was a good son and he wanted her to come and live with him, but she wouldn't do it because she didn't want to be a burden.

Then one day Mrs. Lilly told Grandma Carrie that her son was sending her to Florida.

"You got people in Florida?" Grandma Carrie asked.

Mrs. Lilly said that she didn't but that her son thought it was a good idea. They both talked about her going to Florida like it was a good thing, but when the time come for her to go she was crying and so was Grandma Carrie. When Mrs. Lilly was getting into the car, she told Grandma Carrie that she didn't think she was going to live a long time. Her son was saying things to try to make her stop crying, but she didn't. Then they was gone off in the car, and me and Grandma Carrie was standing there with a suitcase and two shopping bags full of stuff that Mrs. Lilly had give to us. We took the stuff on home, and I could see that Grandma Carrie had something on her mind. She was real quiet and sat on the edge of the bed and rocked a little. I asked her what it was that was wrong, but she didn't say nothing. I wanted to go out and see what was going on outside, but when Grandma Carrie got into one of her rocking moods it wasn't much good to ask her to go out. I looked at the paper for a while in the kitchen, and then I heard her speak out. I didn't hear what she said, so I went into the bedroom and she said it again.

"You know she gave us a nice piece of money every week," Grandma said. "I don't know what we gonna do now, boy. Guess the Lord will provide."

She didn't say much more about it then, and I didn't ask her nothing, either. We watched television for a while, and then she called me in for Sunday evening prayer.

"Lord, this is Your servant Carrie. Thank You, Jesus, for looking out after me and this boy today. Thank You, Jesus, for providing us with the meals to nourish our earthly bodies. Thank You, Jesus, for providing us with Your love to nourish our heavenly spirits.

"Lord, take care of Mrs. Lilly so that she can seek Thy grace and the peace of Thy love. Go ahead, boy."

"Thank You, Jesus, for our daily bread. Thank You, Jesus, for the love You have shown us and for Your mercy. Amen."

"You thanking Jesus from your heart or you thanking Him from memory, boy?"

"I'm thanking Him from my heart, Grandma Carrie."

"Go on to bed."

I went on to bed, and things went on about like they used to except for Grandma Carrie not going to see Mrs. Lilly. Grandma Carrie said we had to cut back on spending, and I said okay. It was summertime and school was out, so I didn't have much to spend on, anyway. Grandma Carrie said we was poor in the ways of the world but rich in the spirit of Jesus. That was okay with me, because we always had enough to eat and everything, anyway. Sometimes I would go down to the market and either carry bags for people or help them clean out the vegetable department. The man who was the manager of the produce department was named Sal, and he didn't work you too hard, and he always gave you fifty cents or a dollar extra if you didn't fool around.

It Ain't All for Nothin' SNY. Copyright © by Walter Myers. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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It Ain't All for Nothin' 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
kishields on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, though written quite a long time ago, is still relevant and moving. It tells the story of a young boy who is living in poverty, but happily, with his religious and loving grandmother. When she gets sick, he is forced to live with his drinking, drugging, thieving father and must make some hard choices. The book does not pretty up this lifestyle, though his life is less violent than a similar boy's of today would be. The book felt very authentic, particularly (oddly enough) in its depiction of his loss of his grandmother. She becomes a victim of nursing home syndrome, which is accurately portrayed, as I think anyone would agree who has witnessed a relative or friend decline in a home. Sad, but honest.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
.People should read this book because it talks about how people are in poverty and also how people should open their lives up to their family and have fun with them. I agree with goldfounder for 3 reasons. 1. it’s hard to imagine not having a mom and your dad not talking to you. 2. it’s hard to not receive social security anymore. 3. The message is don’t steal. My favorite character is Tippy. This is because he persevered through being poor, his grandma dying, and his dad not accepting him. This kid is very brave for throwing himself out there. "I was sitting on the stoop again, mainly because I didn’t have no money" ( Myers 74). This is my favorite quote because I was born in one of the worst cities to live in and I know how many people are poor. This also shows that Tippy had to work out of being poor. This touches me because Tippy attempts to get out of poverty and help his grandma
Birdmanjr65 More than 1 year ago
The story starts out at the home of Tippy's grandmother's house in Harlem, New York. Eventually when she gets sick, the story is moved between the hospital and Lonnie's house. In his story the author asserts that we as young adults have the option to choose between what's right and wrong. The main character is Tippy. He's a young boy who struggles with deciding whether he wants to accept the ways of his father Lonnie, or risk losing the only "relationship" he's ever had with him. The issue begins when his grandmother Carrie has to be hospitalized, leaving him under his father's care. It's difficult for Tippy because Lonnie resented him for the loss of his mother at birth. The mood is conveyed by emotional hardships that Tippy goes through and/or discovers when he witnesses the lifestyle of his father. Lonnie is a thief and overall steals to make a living. He even takes his son to rob people or "take care of business". I didn't really enjoy the book because I didn't feel it had enough detail. The author could've improved that area of the story. I would've liked to know what was wrong with his grandmother or if his father actually does care for him or not. I also didn't agree with the way Tippy didn't follow through with what he really wants. It seems like even though he knows that he doesn't want to do something he'd do it anyway and it bothered me how he couldn't stand up for what he believes. It was like he didn't set standards for himself because he couldn't speak out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What would you do if you were a young child, would you go along with your father's theiving ways or would you reject his ways? This was a wonderful father-son fiction book. The story took palce in Harlem New York. The main characters are Tippy (the young boy), and Lonnie his father. The story fulfills it's purpose very well sending the message it is not okay to steal. I really liked the book because it kept me intersted from the beginning. I agree with Tippy's theme, it is not okay to steal. I also have the same morals. I liked Tippy's bravery. I did not like the fact that Lonnie never showed Tippy any love. Lonnie never even allowed Tippy to call him dad. Tjhe author did a fantastic job with this book. I really got emotionally involved. This book needs no improvement. The book is fantastic.
Guest More than 1 year ago
the book was very interesting. tippy was so curious and he was smart. this was the first book that really changed my whole perspective on life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i feel this book help give me a great insight on how some people's life can be. it also made me look at different things alot differently. I would recommend this book to anyone without second thought.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was good to tell young kids everywhere wether to make the right or wrong decision. It is a book i think for middle school kids to read.
goldfounder More than 1 year ago
What if you had no place to go and no choice but to go live with someone you despised, and this was your father? Imagine not being able to get up to use the restroom, because you were afraid of being beat up by your father all due for waking him up. This was the life of Tippy living with his father that was an alcoholic, thief, abusive and uncontrollable. Before the story even beings things had been good when Tippy was staying with his grandmother Carrie. Then everything changed one day when they were not able to receive Social Security anymore. In result Carrie decides to go back to work and she ends up getting really sick due to her old age. She is in and out of the hospital and this is when Tippy has no choice but to go live with Lonnie his father. What is the message to this story? It is don't steal, because whatever you think you'll get away with later on will be paying the consequences. You have to read it to find out what happens next with Tippy and how things end up. I recommend this book and thought it was well written and consider it for those who like to read a story about the hardships on life. This is a book that will make you cry, sad and maybe a bit scared at some points. This is one of my favorite books by Walter Dean Myers, because he truly is a writer that knows how to keep the reader entertained.