"A teen basketball player's promising career threatens to be derailed by the drugs and violence in his seedy neighborhood"-- - (Baker & Taylor)
A coming-of-age, semi-autobiographical tale on the realities of black inner-city life follows the experiences of young Andre Battel as he grows away from his Jamaican family, discovers basketball court talents, and turns drug dealer for a street gang. - (Baker & Taylor)
A coming-of-age, semi-autobiographical tale on the realities of black inner-city life, written by a MacArthur grant recipient, follows the experiences of young Andre Battel as he grows away from his Jamaican family, discovers basketball court talents and turns drug dealer for a street gang. 20,000 first printing. - (Baker & Taylor)
In contemporary American fiction there are very few examples of novels that have portrayed the realities of black inner-city life with honesty, empathy, and storytelling skills. Into that near-vacuum steps Marcus Burke and his first novel,Team Seven—a literarily accomplished, autobiographically tinged coming-of-age family drama with an undeniably authentic feel for place, language, and character.
As Andre Battel, a native of Milton, a town south of Boston, ages from age eight through his teenage years, he grows away from his Jamaican family, discovers genuine prowess on the basketball court, and eventually falls into dealing drugs for the local street gang, Team Seven. But when Andre and his crew fall behind on payments, dire and violent consequences await. The story is told primarily through Andre's voice, but we also see the point of view of his mother, Ruby, a hardworking medical secretary; his older sister, Nina; his mostly-not-there and typically drunk-and-high father, Eddy, a halfhearted reggae musician; and Reggie and Smoke, the kingpin of competing drug crews.
What emerges is a rich portrait of a black family, a black community, and one young man poised between youthful innocence and ambiguous experience. - (Random House, Inc.)
This coming-of-age novel marks the promising debut of African American author Burke, a product of the Boston suburb Milton, Susquehanna University, and the Iowa Writers Workshop. We first meet man-child Andre Battel as an eight-year-old at home with his mom, Ruby; an often absent dad; and Ruby's solid and quite wonderfully portrayed Jamaican parents, Papa and Nana Tanks. A local street gang, Squad Six, and its charismatic leader, Reggie Graham, tempt young Dre, but Ruby continually reminds her son that he is "a cut above" the rest. He is, among other things, an apparently gifted basketball player (like the author), but, like his father, he gets into "weed" and, though he escapes it, is involved in a related tragedy befalling two friends. He is maturing and acquiring self-awareness as the novel ends, and readers will hope he achieves his promise. To whatever degree the novel is autobiographical, Burke is well on the way. Copyright 2014 Booklist Reviews.
Library Journal Reviews
Teenaged Andre Battel, from a Jamaican family that has settled in downbeat Milton, MA, finds himself by playing basketball but then loses himself by dealing drugs. Burke hails from Milton but was able to attend prep school and Susquehanna University as a star athlete, then wrecked his knee and turned to writing. The MacArthur Fellowship says it all.
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