I Take What I Want by Hal Ellson (Midwood, 1958)

What Hal Ellson did best: juvenile criminal tales with a snappy style. Like many of his novels, this one is in first person and present tense, told by teenage Al, a hood, a punk, a crook, a gang member. Real life knocks on his door when he knocks up his girl and he needs to find the money to get it fixed. His girl wants him to go out and get a real job and stop being a gang bum.

There is plenty of violence and sex, murder and rape, bad cops and good girls gone bad in this one but it is not one of Ellson’s best, like Duke or Tomboy, probably why he sold it to new company, Midwood Books — the real early Midwoods of 1958 and 1959 were noy numbered and published in small digest size.

Why did every juvie gang book always have the same cover? — a frightened woman on the group looking up at some hood in leather jacket and holding a switch blade?

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