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Brandon is a 15 year old whose dream is a pair of fresh Air Jordans and works hard to make that dream come true. After the titular shoes promptly snatched by a local hood, Brandon sets on a dangerous mission through Oakland to retrieve them.
The motif of a faceless, imaginary spaceman following the boy around is overly precious, but what does work is Tipping's focus on sensitive boys hardening in reaction to their father figures (or lack thereof).
A dangerous quest for a stolen pair of shoes becomes an odyssey through ravaged California minority neighborhoods where drugs are omnipresent and violence is never far away. It is a tale of lost innocence, absent fathers and rites of passage.
Tipping's admittedly artful style is relatively ambiguous, focusing mostly on cheap visceral thrills, to the point where it's impossible to glean what he thinks about the depths to which Brandon will go.