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Dodgers

by Bill Beverly

Book list *Starred Review* In this stunning crime-fiction debut, East, a 15-year-old gang member in L.A., loses his job after police raid the drug house where he's standing guard. Offered a chance at redemption, he joins a crew driving cross-country to Wisconsin to kill a witness in a case against his boss. With him are Michael Wilson, a 20-year-old smooth talker; Walter, an overweight 17-year-old problem-solver; and East's own brother, Ty, an unknowable 13-year-old killer. East has never been out of L.A. and the journey is transformative, forcing him to confront problems inside and outside the van while figuring out who he is and why he was ultimately sent along. The premise and execution are terrific, and the prose is remarkable: Beverly does more with a sentence than many writers accomplish in a paragraph. East and his compatriots are old before their time, and yet we never lose the sense that they are still growing up, even if their growing-up is like that of soldiers dropped behind enemy lines in their first war. They are black, and the highway they travel is very white indeed. Highly recommended for fans of Richard Price, this is a searing novel about crime, race, and coming-of-age, with characters who live, breathe, and bleed.--Graff, Keir Copyright 2016 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Beverly's fiction debut is an atmospheric thriller, a crime novel of violence and murder, and an on-the-road experience. The book's young antihero is a 15-year-old named East, who is standing at a crossroads to his future. His upward mobility through the ranks of his South Central L.A. gang, due primarily to his high-ranking uncle Fin, was halted when he allowed his feelings for a young murdered girl to interfere with his guardianship of a drug house. To reestablish his nephew's credibility, Fin sends him with three other teen gangsters on a road trip from L.A. to kill a judge on vacation in Wisconsin. Actor Jackson tells Beverly's granite-hard story in a smooth, almost gentle voice that underscores the pressures East is feeling on the trip. Something in that just-telling-it-like-it-is attitude highlights the boy's sense of confusion and frustration, saddled with a job he doesn't think he can do, traveling in unfamiliar surroundings, with boys he can't control. Jackson has no trouble clarifying the members of East's teammates on the hit. But his finest achievement is his presentation of East, a too-rapidly maturing boy, confused by his conflicting emotions, uncertain of what to do, how to do it, and where to go to seek advice. A Crown hardcover. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly Beverly (On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover's America) makes his fiction debut with a dazzling crime novel that's equal parts coming-of-age tale la Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye and travelogue la Kerouac. East, a 15-year old gang member from South L.A., sets out for Wisconsin with three other teenage boys at the behest of his uncle, on a mission to kill a key witness in an upcoming trial. Along for the ride is East's brother, Ty, an emotionless killer at 13. The revelations experienced by the young men as they drive cross-country through America's heartland are life changing, and in some cases, life ending. The narrative is simultaneously coldhearted and lyrical. For example, the dark, abandoned houses in a neighborhood known as the Boxes are described as "a row of loose teeth," and planes flash "like blades" in the morning sky. Readers won't soon forget East and his bloody journey of self-discovery and, ultimately, salvation. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib, McCormick & Williams. (Apr.) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal With characterizations recalling the best of George Pelecanos, this debut novel by Beverly (American literature, Trinity Univ.; On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover's America) follows the coming-of-age story of East, a young Los Angeles gang lookout who is sent on a road trip with three others to kill a witness in Wisconsin. This is not the usual road trip narrative; each of the four young men could easily carry their own book, but East, a smart and sympathetic narrator, propels the story with his internal assessments of his cohorts and their situation. An unexpected turn in the latter third of the novel brings the focus more squarely on East, who has never been out of L.A. and begins to examine the possibilities that are available to him beyond his urban life as well as the reality of being a young black man in a predominantly white Midwest America. VERDICT Fans of HBO's The Wire and Richard Price novels will be engaged by the book's themes of race, identity, and the U.S. class system.-Julie Elliott, Indiana Univ. Lib., South Bend Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Working for one of his uncle's drug houses in South Central L.A., East takes his 12-hour shifts of watching the street and managing the drug users with a level of seriousness and perspicacity that would make him the envy of any fresh MBA. When the cops raid and begin to unravel the organization with arrests, East's house shuts down. Instead of receiving a bullet to the brain as he's expecting, 15-year-old East is sent by his uncle beyond the neighborhood he's always known to the wilds of Wisconsin as one of an unlikely team of urban boy soldiers on a mission to take out a judge who poses a danger to boss Fin. The characterizations of East and those who accompany him are masterly. Beverly presents an unflinching third-person glimpse through the jaded eyes of East at college wheeler-dealer Michael, physically flabby but mentally sharp Walter, and Ty, East's younger and frighteningly volatile trigger man and half brother. The protagonist has seen so much darkness and crime that the navet he conveys is miraculous. This man-boy from the mean streets is still able to experience watershed moments that open his eyes to a world and people beyond his ken and his kin. His rites of passage are atypical compared with many other antiheroes; in some ways, he washes clean rather than becoming dirtied by the world at large. VERDICT At once gritty and literary, this novel is sure to please YA readers, who, like East, know-or seek to know-more about life than is sometimes comfortable.-Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Gwinnett County, GA Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Library Journal In Beverly's first novel, East is a smart and hardened 15-year-old Los Angeles gang member who oversees a group of youths serving as lookouts for the drug house controlled by his uncle Finn. After police arrest Finn, East and three other young men, including East's estranged younger brother Ty, travel to Wisconsin to murder a witness. The bulk of the story centers on the cross-country road trip and the stormy relationships among the young men, especially East and Ty. They succeed in their grim task, but East shoots Ty in a botched carjacking attempt. East tries to run, but Ty tracks him down to a small town in northern Ohio, where Ty reveals breathtaking news regarding his brother's past. JD Jackson does an excellent job presenting the tale. Verdict This audiobook is recommended to listeners interested in stark urban novels. ["Fans of HBO's The Wire and Richard Price novels will be engaged by the book's themes of race, identity, and the U.S. class system": LJ 4/15/16 starred review of the Crown hc.]-Stephen L. Hupp, West Virginia Univ. Parkersburg Lib. Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Fifteen-year-old East is pulled from his job as gang lookout at a drug site to join three other young black men on a road trip from California to Wisconsin, where they will carry out an assassination. Rich characterization and profound cultural insights make this debut novel an unforgettable journey for teen readers. (http://ow.ly/PN4C305MyAa)-Diane Colson, Gainesville City College, FL Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.