Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Green by Sam Graham Felsen

Description
A novel of race and privilege in America that you haven't seen before: a coming-of-age story about a life-changing friendship, propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable voice.

"This isn't some Jedi bull****; the force I'm talking about is real, and its energies are everywhere, working on everyone."

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King Middle School. Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won't even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city's best public high school--which, if practice tests are any indication, isn't likely--he'll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody's more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. 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 and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. 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.

Infectiously funny about the highs and lows of adolescence, and sharply honest in the face of injustice, Sam Graham-Felsen's debut is a wildly original take on the struggle to rise in America.
  

This coming of age story is set in the 1990s and centers around the friendship of David and Marlon, two very different kids who find they have a lot in common.
David is one of the only white kids at Martin Luther King Middle School in Boston. He's a target for bullies and hates that his parents won't send him to a private school like his little brother Benno.
Marlon is being raised by his grandmother because of his mother's instability. When Marlon sticks up for David one day when he's getting bullied the 2 strike up a friendship. They find they are both basketball fans and both hoping to attend Harvard someday. Marlon is embarrassed by his mother, while David is embarrassed by his Grandfather. Although they share much in common their friendship is repeatedly tested.
While I enjoyed the story I felt there were quite a few aspects of Marlon's character that could have been better developed and that were deserving of a more in depth exploration other than just being the black kid with big dreams and an unstable mother.

I received an advance copy for review.

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