"I am the white boy at Martin Luther King Middle. Well, one of two."Green ~ by Sam Graham-Felsen, 2018, fiction (Massachusetts)
Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut novel is a wildly original take on race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America. 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.The New Yorker lists this as one of the books they loved in 2018, and I happened to find it in our little library at the Crown Center when I was re-shelving books today. I've never seen it before, and neither has Donna. Someone here must have shelved it as a donation, or the third person who shelves books found it shoved through the return slot and shelved it. So I checked it out to read myself.
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.
Gilion at Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings on Fridays. Click link for more book beginnings.