Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry

chris terry






Kirkus Zero Fade

Chris L. Terry's debut young adult novel Zero Fade chronicles eight days in the life of inner-city Richmond, Virginia teen Kevin Phifer as he deals with wack haircuts, bullies, last-year fly gear, his uncle Paul coming out as gay, and being grounded. From his punk rock young adulthood to teaching writing to juvenile inmates, Chris L. Terry knows the vernacular of youth, its rhythms, relationships, and dreams. Equipped with a deft comic hand, Terry has created a young adult novel like few before it.

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About Chris L. Terry:

Chris L. TerryBorn to an African-American father and an Irish-American mother, Chris L. Terry lives in Chicago, where he teaches writing and theatre to juvenile inmates. He spent his teens and early twenties touring the world in a punk band. He has a Fiction Writing MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Zero Fade is his first novel. Excerpts have appeared in Chicago Reader, Curbside Splendor, Great Lakes Review, Hair Trigger, and Trilling Magazine. Visit Chris at

Zero Fade
Book Trailer:


Praise for Zero Fade:

"Meet Kevin Phifer. He’s in seventh grade, with a dad who’s been gone for 10 years, a mom who won’t let him get a fade, and a neighborhood bully who won’t leave him alone. It’s 1994 in Richmond, Va., and Kevin’s the hero of Chris L. Terry’s funny, well-observed young adult novel. I loved Zero Fade for its great period detail and its honesty about its main character’s emotions—including his confusion and concern about an uncle who’s coming out to his family." —Dan Kois, Slate

"Kevin Phifer, 13, a black seventh-grader in 1990s Richmond, Va., and hero of this sparkling debut, belongs in the front ranks of fiction’s hormone-addled, angst-ridden adolescents, from Holden Caulfield to the teenage Harry Potter [...] Original, hilarious, thought-provoking and wicked smart: not to be missed. — Kirkus Reviews

"Zero Fade is a damn fine read with a resounding message that never preaches, but instead talks to you across the table like a friend and ally. Highly recommended. Chris L. Terry is an author to keep an eye on." — Razorcake

"Zero Fade is a "funny and insightful coming of age story, which takes place in the 1990s hip-hop era, [and] is a standout story in children’s literature, in which many more black male protagonists are needed." — Richmond Times Dispatch

"Zero Fade is wise and wise-assed, hilarious and subtle, knowing and searching. We need writers like Chris Terry, unafraid to plumb the complexities and absurdities of race and identity with grace and funk." — Adam Mansbach, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Rage is Back and GO THE F**K TO SLEEP.

"Chris Terry is a wise and hilarious writer. He has bestowed Kevin, the hero of Zero Fade, with an especially acute case of teenage angst, and the results are sweet, painful and very recognizable to anyone who has survived seventh grade. This is a wonderful book." — Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife

"With sharp storytelling sagacity and attention to detail, Mr. Terry masterfully captures the lingo and tackles the issues of growing up hip-hop in the early '90s. He's fired up the Flux Capacitor and brought me back to a childhood of asymmetrical haircuts, terms and viewpoints that have since become taboo and other idiosyncratic stuff that speaks to modern society's invisible men: the black, hip-hop kids of Generation X." — J-Zone, author of Root for the Villain: Rap, Bulls**t, and a Celebration of Failure

"Reading Chris Terry's Zero Fade offered me a glimpse into a cultural experience that isn't mine, but that I could recognize immediately. Vernacular as world. On the surface, it's just language. But this novel isn't surface. The characters speak in rhythms that reveal emotions not identifiable by just words, but I'll name them nonetheless: humor, sadness, confusion, joy, revelation. It's all here in Terry's first novel, a novel that is practically carbonated, how it sparkles and burns." — Lindsay Hunter, author of Daddy's and Don't Kiss Me

"The fictional story, set in Richmond’s North Side in 1994, tells the tale of seventh-grader Kevin Phifer and his trials and tribulations [in a] slyly comical and nuanced take on teenage angst." — Style Weekly

"There is something magical in the way that [Chris L.] Terry captures Kevin’s world. Kevin is at once vulgar and sweetly innocent, and his voice on the page is electric, as flowing and rhythmic as his favorite Biggie Smalls songs [...] Kevin’s voice, though unique and rife with individual problems, is the voice of anyone who has ever been thirteen." — Chicago Literati

"Zero Fade by Chris L. Terry is a personal favorite and one of the best books for younger teens I’ve read in a long time. The novel is written at a breakneck speed [filled with] with hilarious gems, such as, “Tyrell’s crew had been held back so many times that they were bigger than the teachers.” — Any Cheney, Reaching Reluctant Readers

Listen to Chris L. Terry read "Watering Tyrell," an excerpt from Zero Fade: 




Kirkus Starred Review

Chicago Tribune Printer's Row

Gaper's Block Interview

Chicago Literati


Windy City Times


Other People

Reaching Reluctant Readers


Marginalia: Columbia College MFA Blog

The Good Men Project

Passion of the Weiss

RVA Magazine

LargeHearted Boy

This Blog Will Change Your Life

3 Elements Review

Publication Details:

Age Range: 12 and up 
Grade Level: 6 and up

Age Range: 12 and up
Grade Level: 6 and up
294 pages
Curbside Splenod Publishing
ISBN: 978-0988480438
Cover Art: Ezra Claytan Daniels