I came across this book when I was in 7th or 8th grade. It was a hardback copy with a very unassuming cover, but the title seemed catchy. I picked it up, checked it out of my school’s library and started reading it. I finished the entire book by night time. To me, the book wasn’t just your basic urban read. I took a lot from it and I was only thirteen at the time. I’m looking into her other novel “Listen for the Fig Tree” but here’s the synopsis :
The story revolves around three brothers, black boys in a poverty stricken city (Yadda Yadda) during the Vietnam War and each of them has a talent. The middle boy, Joe is who holds the perspective and ironically enough he’s the most overlooked character. He’s a brilliant story-teller who’s preparing for graduation and planning to enlist into the Navy. His father is handicapped, his aunt is getting up in age and his mother is pretty much a wilted flower throughout the story. (The family has taken quite a toll on her) She loves the boys but her favorite is the oldest, Paul. Paul is an exceptional artist with a drug problem and he’s just returned home from rehab… Again. He’s out of it for most of the story, except when he’s bickering with his brothers or painting. He’s who the mother put most of her energy into when it should be the youngest boy, Davey. He’s the brains and athlete in the family. He has the brightest future and the best chance for a silver lining in the story which is why it’s no surprise that Joe has so much stock in him. Davey’s almost home free, but his mother isn’t exactly supportive of him going away and actually becomes a pretty big roadblock in his venturing out. The book packs enough drama to keep you turning pages, but Mathis didn’t stop there. She brought emotion into play and the climax is one that you wouldn’t have expected when reading and getting to know the characters. This family needed a wake up call and it hits them hard in the end. 8 years later and it’s still a moving tale. Perfect read for teens that are just graduating from Kiddy novels and want to read something more serious. I was trying to make all of my friends read it. Check it out of you haven’t.