Every once in a while, I choose or wish for a book on NetGalley solely due to the description and GREEN was one of those books.
12 year old David Greenfeld, aka Green, is nearly the only white boy in Martin Luther King Middle School in the early 90's. As such, he is subject to harassment, and not only because of his color. He's Jewish, even though his family doesn't practice, he doesn't have the right clothes or shoes, and he has few friends.
Marlon, a black teen that lives nearby, comes to Dave's aid when he's bullied and they become fast friends. Bonding over Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, (the curse of Coke!), and playing basketball, (or nasketball), the two are nearly inseparable.
Mar and Dave's friendship occurs during a tough time in Boston and in our country. Amidst the tumultuous race riots and the rise, (and fall) of Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis, (the importance of sports teams in Boston cannot be underestimated), these boys face racist bullies and the threat of bodily violence every day. Coming of age is never easy, no matter the era in which it takes place. Dave is trying hard to better himself, find his inner self, (Is it Christian? Is it Jewish?) and survive the day to day without the right clothes or shoes. Will his relationship with Marlon survive too? You'll have to read this to find out!
While I enjoyed GREEN, I had some problems with it. I know the language had to be of the time and setting for the tale to ring true, but I'm not quite sure that it did. To be honest, at times it seems that the author was trying too hard to make the slang real. Every single time clothes were described it was "so and so rocked this or that", every time they went somewhere they "rolled." It irritated me a little but your mileage may vary.
Another problem I had with the story is the lack of information about some of the characters and their backgrounds. Green's brother Benno, for instance, hadn't spoken to anyone in over a year and had other issues as well. I would have liked to have known more about that. Also, Green's Jewish grandfather, (Cramps instead of Gramps, because he was grouchy), had a lot of background that was only briefly glimpsed in this tale. I would have liked to have known more details about that and about the effects they had on Dave's father.
Lastly, as the mother of a young man I know that masturbation is a big part of a boy's coming of age. I just don't need to know the details. I know it happens, I know the hormones are raging, I get it. I just want to give the head's up to others that this occurs. A lot! (This was the era of Baywatch, after all.)
GREEN was a good coming of age story and I wonder how much of it was autobiographical because most of it did ring true. (As much as it could to a middle age white woman, anyway.) Bullying, religion, racism, having the right clothes and shoes-these are all things that are still problems to this day. It's how we deal with these issues that defines us. David Greenfeld was not the perfect boy and certainly not the perfect friend, but I couldn't help but root for him anyway. I think you will too.
*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*
"And there's the sign, Ridcully," said the Dean. "you have read it, I assume. You know? The sign which says 'Do not, under any circumstances, open this door'?"
"Of course I've read it," said Ridcully. "Why d'yer think I want it opened?"
"Er ... why?" said the Lecturer in Recent Runes.
"To see why they wanted it shut, of course."*
*This exchange contains almost all you need to know about human civilization. At least, those bits of it that are not under the sea, fenced off or still smoking.
"I'm in charge here and I want a bathroom of my own," said Ridcully firmly. "And that's all there is to it, all right? I want a bathroom in time for Hogswatchnight, understand?"
And that's a problem with beginnings, of course. Sometimes, when you're dealing with occult realms that have quite a different attitude to time, you get the effect a little way before the cause.
Oh, it's good to be back with Sir Terry at the height of his powers -- I feel like sharing every other page. And of course Ridcully would have done better curbing his curiosity about that door ...
I spent a lot of time being annoyed with Michael in this novel -- more time being annoyed with Miles, however. Well, that's not true -- events keep Miles off of the board for most of the book, so let me say that I spent more time annoyed with him while he active. I get that communication is hard for them, and I guess it was good to see that Miles was human, too -- even his ability to understand Michael's needs and desires has limits.
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
So Michael's got her head on right after The Catch and goes to join Miles in Japan. He's there in a strange corporate security consulting gig that he really won't clue her in on. They spend a few months together, him working days and her trying not to get bored and learning Japanese. The latter of those two works a whole lot better than the former. She needs something to do -- and not in the "I've gotta kill someone or take drugs" kind of way she did back in The Vessel. She just needs something to occupy her time while he's putting in 15 hour days. Which isn't dong their relationship any good. Before she can have it out with him, he gets arrested for murdering someone at the tech company he's working for. If she had tried to talk, if he'd explained himself a little better -- if they had communicated at all . . . so much of this novel wouldn't have happened. Too many books/movies/TV shows rely on this poor interpersonal communication to force plots forward, it really gets on my nerves.
First, we get a little lesson in Japanese jurisprudence, which by itself was enough to convince me that I don't want to end up arrested in Japan (not that I really want to be arrested anywhere). Then Michael goes to work to clear his name, no one else is going to. The hoops she has to jump through make her previous adventures seem easy -- sure, she was in more peril in most of the previous books, but it seemed easier for her to get around and get the information she wanted. Cultural and corporate protocols are tougher to beat by bribery, sensuality and violence than other things, I guess. Throw in some underworld figures and you've got yourself a thriller worthy of Monroe. I really enjoyed this story once Miles got arrested and things got moving -- Stevens is getting better at plot intricacies.
There's a great corporate espionage plot throughout with an operative that could probably sustain her own novel if Stevens ever got around to it. I'm not sure I can say more than that without messing something up. But as despicable as I find (some of) her methods, they made for good reading.
About the time that I'd given up on Michael doing more than outwitting her opponents, she got sucked into a very violent confrontation. I didn't spend a second thinking that she was in trouble, but man, she had to work hard to eliminate these guys. There's that scene in The Vessel where Stevens cuts away from the action, and we don't get to see Michael kill her captives, we just know she's about to do something and then Miles comes along later and finds the aftermath. This fight scene was probably pretty similar to that -- but there's no cut. We get the whole thing.
I should take a moment to talk about Hilary Huber, but I can't say anything about her narration than I've said before. Now that I'm caught up with these, I'm going to have to track down some other books that she's narrated.
I never expected a happily ever after scenario between Michael and Miles -- but I expected something better than this (not that this is in any way, shape or form the end of their relationship), and that took some of the shine off this book for me. Otherwise, this was very entertaining, gripping, and so on -- a Michael Monroe thriller that tops its predecessors, and deepens our understanding of Michael. Not much more to ask.