Although young adult novels about racial minorities have flourished since the late 1960s, Durango Street remains one of the more mature and satisfying examples of the genre, partly because Bonham did not merely attempt to capitalize on a trend. His concern for the minorities of Los Angeles and the influence of street gangs at the time moved him to meet the youngsters and to study their problems and needs. Instead of simply drawing his own conclusions, Bonham sought to express the opinions and feelings of the boys themselves.
As a result, Bonham recognizes that no easy answers exist for those caught up in street gangs and that those who attempt to resolve the situation face complex personal difficulties. His novel, based on interviews with police officials, parole officers, and gang members, avoids sensationalism and stereotypes, and depicts complex characters in realistic situations. Bonham demonstrates in Durango Street that typical adolescent concerns—status, identity, acceptance, social fear—are at the root of delinquency.
(The entire section is 162 words.)