The year is almost ending, and Christmas is approaching, and I have soooo many books I want to finish!! I’m home right now with my family, which is great because I can spend some quality time with them, but not so great in terms of getting through my book list. However, I’m going to do my best to keep reading and writing posts. Starting with this one:
Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King Middle School. He has no friends, and he struggles to fit in because his hippie parents refuse to buy him anything dope. Unless he tests into the city’s best public high school, he’ll be friendless for the foreseeable future. But when Marlon Wellings sticks up for Dave in the cafeteria, Dave thinks that maybe his luck has changed for the better. Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: he’s nerdy, obsessed with the Celtics, and not down to show off like all the other black kids. Together, the two boys are able to resist the contradictory personas forced on them by the outside world, and before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he’s been given–and that Mar has not.
I thought that this was a very interesting coming-of-age story that deals with some very difficult issues involving race and religion, but not in a heavy-handed way. I liked that the author maintained the slang and vocabulary from the 1990s and made references to what was hip back then; it made the story relevant and also gave me some insight to what was going on back in those days. I also really liked Dave and Mar’s friendship. Their characters were really well developed and their camaraderie was sweet to see. The story is told entirely from Dave’s perspective, and I liked that a lot because it allowed the reader to see the growth and change in Dave as he witnesses events happening to him and to Mar. However, I found the plot to be a little slow. There was no variety to the events and it seemed that a lot of repetitive instances had to take place before the author decided that he had made his point and could move on. This was really one of the main reasons why it was hard for me to get through the novel. But I think that the entire story was really well-written and had great characters. I’m giving this a 3/5 stars and would recommend this to anyone who likes coming-of-age books that look at divisions of race and class.
Thanks to Penguin Random House and the First to Read program for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.