In the Bronx, an African-American family of five is struggling to make ends meet. Tony is a determined young man that tries not to give in to the negative elements of society. He wants a better way to live and a chance with Janet Mitchell, a white classmate. Despite what friends and family think, Tony really is his own man. Unlike his brother, C.J., who is a gang member and unlike his father, Lionel, who blames the "white man" for his being unemployed. The third child of the Johnson family is sixteen-year-old Tanya, who is experiencing first love. Caren, the mother, seems to be holding the household together. She works hard, makes do with dinners of leftovers amalgamated into stew, and is supportive of her alcoholic-sometimes-abusive husband.
As I read along, I kept wondering how long this family could survive. How long before C.J. is physically hurt from gang activity? Will Tony make it to college? Will he have a relationship with Janet? How will Tanya's first experience of love turn out? When will the strike end so Lionel can return to work? Will Tony stop history from repeating itself?
Pickering's writing and character dialogue was very realistic. Each character was well-developed and described so well that you could get a glimpse of their mindset. I felt like I was right there in their daily lives. And better yet, all of my questions were answered. No loose ends!
I recommend this coming-of-age complex story. Patches of Grey is a story that will appeal to all audiences and make for great discussion between parents and their young adults, students and book clubs. It was a good depiction of what some African-American families face and see as truth. It accurately described why strong people do what needs to be done. And most of all, it reiterated a lesson: the world is not just black and white. There are patches of grey. I'm glad I had the opportunity to read about such patches through the eyes of the Johnsons.
Patches of Grey is Pickering's debut novel. Well done, sir! For more information about writer Roy Pickering, you may visit his blog and www.roypickering.net to read an excerpt. The content is well worth the unbeatable discounted price (Kindle eBook $0.99; NOOKbook $2.99; Paperback $12.95). Read a copy!
DISCLAIMER: This book was received directly from the author for review purposes only. In no way does it influence my review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.
Title: Patches of Grey
Author: Roy L. Pickering, Jr.
Published: January 2010
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