May: Fiction Pick
David Greenfeld is one of the only white kids in Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School. His parents, hippie Harvard dropouts, won’t even buy him the clothes he wants. He doesn’t fit in. He’s the narrator of this coming-of-age story, and his language is part street talk, almost all jargon, very funny. He’s conflicted, about being Jewish (he doesn’t tell anyone), about white girls, about his parents and their alternative lifestyle. He has a friend- another student in his school, who is black, and lives in the public housing project. These two interact on again and off, but they learn from each other. The book follows them through a school year as they strive to pass a test to get into the Boston Latin School, which will relieve them of the pressures they currently face. You’ll like the characters. Overall an entertaining book, though about serious subjects. – Judith
Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., 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. 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 American dream.