I don't know why, but I have really mixed feelings about this book. I really can't say that I am disappointed by the book, because I am not and in the same time I feel like the book was missing something, but I really can't put my finger on what the 'something' is. And of course, it doesn't help that the more I think about how to write this review the less I know what to actually write...
Let's take it step by step, first of all, what I liked about the book. I think the book has a great story and although it is a fiction, it can easily be a true story. The book is set in New Orleans in a very run down area. The author doesn't hold back and portrays the struggle of the 16-year-old with her awakening libido, exposure to violence, drugs and a skewed view of a religion as well as trying to make sense (and find who to blame) why the family is falling apart. But to be honest, the little girl has her darker wicked side too and has ways how to cope in this environment. The book offers very interesting insight into a section of a society that is living sometimes on the right side of the law and sometimes dipping on the other side. It shows that the author clearly took the time to do the research.
What I particularly struggled with was to build a bond with the characters (apart from Verma who is very sweet and down to earth). I tried over and over and it just didn't work out for me and as a consequence, I didn't really care about what is going to happened next. And I kind of feel sorry for that because the book is interesting and I should be able to enjoy it more.
For me, this book had all the right ingredients to be a great book but it is missing a 'soul'. I don't know whether I am biased because I have read quite a few exceptional books recently and this one didn't reach the same high mark, which was slightly unsatisfactory. Said that, this book is still a better than average read so try and give it a go, maybe you will have better luck with it than me.