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The heat is on
|Author||Walter Dean Myers|
|Cover artist||Andy Bacha|
|Subject||Harlem life, gangs|
|Preceded by||Fallen Angels|
Jamal is trying to get his brother, Randy, out of jail. Randy is a 17-year-old who is the leader of the Scorpions, a local gang of drug dealers in New York City.
Jamal's family includes himself, Randy, his mother, his 8-year-old sister whose name is Sassy, and his father, Jeovon Hicks. Jamal's father became an alcoholic after losing his job and began abusing Jamal's mother. She moves away with the children. Now Jamal's father comes to visit the family "once in a while".
When the story begins, Randy only needs $500 to appeal his conviction. His mother is working to the bone in order to earn enough money to get the money. His mother soon finds out that his brother has been attacked and stabbed while in jail and is in medical care. Some members of the Scorpions want Jamal to join them until Randy is freed from jail so that there will be direct communication between the gang and Randy. Other members want to vote on a new leader because they feel Randy is dead to them and that letting a 12-year-old joining a gang would not be beneficial. Jamal wants to earn money the right way by working but is scared to go against the Scorpions. Eventually, Jamal breaks free from the bad influence and does the right thing.
- Jamal Hicks: The main character. His brother is in jail and was the leader of a gang called the Scorpions.
- Randy Hicks: Jamal's brother. He was the leader of the Scorpions until he got convicted of murdering someone.
- Sassy Hicks: Jamal's sister. She always tells Mama everything she sees Jamal doing wrong.
- Mama Hicks: Jamal's mother. She is suspicious of Jamal because she thinks he is in the Scorpions.
- Tito: Jamal's best friend. Always helping Jamal. One of the main characters.
- Abuela: Tito's grandmother
- Dwayne: Jamal's main enemy. He is always starting problems with Jamal in school.
- Mack: A member of the Scorpions. He protects Jamal from any harm done to him by other Scorpions.
- Indian: Another member of the Scorpions. He jumps Jamal along with his warlord, Angel.
- Angel: Indian's warlord.
- "Children's Book Awards For Writers & Illustrators". LexisNexis. Retrieved 28 January 2016. (subscription required)