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Little Men
by Becky Tan

Thirteen-year-old Jake lives in  Manhattan with his father, an actor, and his mother, a psychotherapist. After  the death of the grandfather, they move to the family home in Brooklyn, which  they inherited. They live upstairs. The ground floor has been rented for years  to a seamstress for her shop. Her (also 13-year-old) son, Tony lives with her.  Jake and Tony become fast friends and both dream of being accepted at the La  Guardia High School in Manhattan for their talents in art and music  respectively. The crisis arises when Jake’s parents prepare an eviction process  against Tony’s mother. She pays little to no rent, due to her friendship with  the deceased grandfather. The family needs the money, especially since the aunt  insists on her part of the inheritance. The boys join forces against this plan.  Jake’s mother firmly thinks that she can solve the problem; after all, “You  know I’m trained in conflict resolution.” The father is more relaxed, but can’t  help.

My personal interest in the film came because my 14-year-old granddaughter also  lives in Brooklyn, which I visit frequently, and she was accepted at this  famous La Guardia High School, the site of the 1980 movie Fame. However, the story could have occurred any place in the world,  as it is typical of human nature.