Green: A Novel by Sam Graham-Felsen

Green: A Novel - Sam Graham-Felsen


Every once in a while, I choose or wish for a book on NetGalley solely due to the description and GREEN was one of those books. 


12 year old David Greenfeld, aka Green, is nearly the only white boy in Martin Luther King Middle School in the early 90's. As such, he is subject to harassment, and not only because of his color. He's Jewish, even though his family doesn't practice, he doesn't have the right clothes or shoes, and he has few friends. 


Marlon, a black teen that lives nearby, comes to Dave's aid when he's bullied and they become fast friends. Bonding over Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics, (the curse of Coke!), and playing basketball, (or nasketball), the two are nearly inseparable.


Mar and Dave's friendship occurs during a tough time in Boston and in our country. Amidst the tumultuous race riots and the rise, (and fall) of Boston Celtic Reggie Lewis, (the importance of sports teams in Boston cannot be underestimated), these boys face racist bullies and the threat of bodily violence every day. Coming of age is never easy, no matter the era in which it takes place. Dave is trying hard to better himself, find his inner self, (Is it Christian? Is it Jewish?) and survive the day to day without the right clothes or shoes. Will his relationship with Marlon survive too? You'll have to read this to find out!


While I enjoyed GREEN, I had some problems with it. I know the language had to be of the time and setting for the tale to ring true, but I'm not quite sure that it did. To be honest, at times it seems that the author was trying too hard to make the slang real. Every single time clothes were described it was "so and so rocked this or that", every time they went somewhere they "rolled." It irritated me a little but your mileage may vary.


Another problem I had with the story is the lack of information about some of the characters and their backgrounds. Green's brother Benno, for instance,  hadn't spoken to anyone in over a year and had other issues as well. I would have liked to have known more about that. Also, Green's Jewish grandfather, (Cramps instead of Gramps, because he was grouchy), had a lot of background that was only briefly glimpsed in this tale. I would have liked to have known more details about that and about the effects they had on Dave's father.


Lastly, as the mother of a young man I know that masturbation is a big part of a boy's coming of age. I just don't need to know the details.  I know it happens, I know the hormones are raging, I get it. I just want to give the head's up to others that this occurs. A lot! (This was the era of Baywatch, after all.) 


GREEN was a good coming of age story and I wonder how much of it was autobiographical because most of it did ring true. (As much as it could to a middle age white woman, anyway.) Bullying, religion, racism, having the right clothes and shoes-these are all things that are still problems to this day. It's how we deal with these issues that defines us. David Greenfeld was not the perfect boy and certainly not the perfect friend, but I couldn't help but root for him anyway. I think you will too. 




*Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for the e-ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This is it.*