Brown, Chris Carlton. 2009. Henry Holt. 232 pages.
It's always a clean white car--this time a Ford.
Every now and then I come across a not-for-me type book. Such is the case with Hoppergrass by Chris Carlton Brown. It is a coming of age novel. It's set in the late sixties--1969 to be precise--at an institute for delinquent teenage boys. The novel is about the harder things of life, the injustices of life--both large and small. It's also a novel about tensions between races: the whites and blacks. Our narrator, Bowser, becomes friends with Nose, a black teen, but Bowser's other friends--and Nose's other friends--can't exactly understand. These two are scripted--by their friends--to hate one another. To be enemies. But behind the scenes, these two are on good terms. But the power and authority of this institution is corrupt--very corrupt--and the lives of some teens (delinquent or not) are at risk. Bowser is one of a very small handful that realizes just how dangerous the situation is becoming. Bowser and Nose are the two facing the biggest risks.
I think there are plenty of readers out there who can appreciate this one. It's about meaning-of-life type stuff. Serious issues of justice and injustice, corruption and prejudice and the like. It's a book about friendship and courage as well. So thematically, the book has much to offer.
I think I just didn't get this book. I didn't really feel a connection with the characters and the story. I wanted to care more than I actually did.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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