A true masterpiece
The Me Nobody Knows is both a musical and a book of poetry and prose written by real school children from the ghettos. The book is one of the most touching things I have ever read, for it is full of real, soulful emotion. Nothing about it is fake, as it is written by children with nothing to lose and no one to impress. They have been through or dreamed about everything they discuss.
In the book, you will find writings expressing anger at the cops beating on the poor for things they cannot begin to understand, disgust at seeing a friend shoot up on a street corner, hatred of the racist, the rich, and the needlessly violent, and heartbreak at the loss of a baby brother. There are also poems about love affairs, and funny stories about things people see in their daily lives, like pigeons. And stories about hope, seeing the sun rise every day, and looking at the stars before falling asleep. Everything written personifies the people living in those hard areas, and shows that they are creative, intelligent, and have feelings, and cannot be ignored as most of the homeless and impoverished continue to be.
I have had the pleasure of performing in the musical adaptation of The Me Nobody Knows, an adaptation which in no way glamorizes the hardships of the ghettos catalogued in the book. The music by Gary William Friedman and lyrics by Will Holt are soft and soulful melodies (including "If I Had A Million Dollars" and "The Apple Tree"), and they are based directly on the book's finest poetry. The dialogue, adapted from the book by Rober H. Livingston and Herb Schapiro, stays true to its source and loses nothing in the translation. One of the last lines in the play is "If people and rats are the only animals that kill each other, and people kill rats...what does that make us?"
If you ever have an opportunity to see this musical, go for it. It's rarely performed, from what I gather. Until then, read the book.