A Debut Novel--Dodgers by Bill Beverly

I was drawn to the debut novel Dodgers by Bill Beverly because of the great reviews and the possibility that there was a Wisconsin connection. There is not much of a Wisconsin connection, but I am happy that I read this novel. Main character East is a 15-year-old black teen living in Los Angeles who is a lookout for his uncle Fin’s drug house. When the house is raided, East is told to go with 3 other young men to kill a judge who was a key witness and who is hiding out in Wisconsin. East travels in a van with a 20-year-old college dropout named Michael Wilson, an obese 17-year-old computer genius named Walter, and East’s amoral younger brother Ty. East is an interesting character. He is both hardened and older than his 15 years because of his life on the streets and naïve and sympathetic because of his lack of knowledge of anything outside of the Los Angeles neighborhood he calls The Boxes. East is haunted by the death of a girl who was caught in the crossfire when the drug house was raided. Despite the gritty nature of the book, there is humor. The title refers to the LA Dodgers gear that the young men were outfitted in when they started their trip. At one point, the group pulls off at a rest stop in Utah and a white boy points at East and says, “Manny Ramirez. My man” and later “Be cool, bro. Fly’s open.” East did not know anything about baseball so he did not know that Manny Ramirez was a baseball player and that the shirt he was wearing had Ramirez’s name on it. (He also did not know his fly was open!) Anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories or who is interested in the experience of being a young black in America should give this book a try.

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