Green by Sam Graham-Felsen Download (read online) free eBook .pdf.epub.kindle

Green

A novel of race and privilege in America that you haven’t seen before: a coming-of-age story about a life-changing friendship, propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable voice.

“This isn’t some Jedi bull****; the force I’m talking about is real, and its energies are everywhere, working on everyone.”

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luthe

“This isn’t some Jedi bull****; the force I’m talking about is real, and its energies are everywhere, working on everyone.”

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King Middle School. Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won’t even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city’s best public high school–which, if practice tests are any indication, isn’t likely–he’ll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody’s more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: He’s nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Together, the two boys are able to resist the contradictory personas forced on them by the outside world, and before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he’s been given–and that Mar has not.

Infectiously funny about the highs and lows of adolescence, and sharply honest in the face of injustice, Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut is a wildly original take on the struggle to rise in America.
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    Larry H

    Nov 24, 2017

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    I’m between 3 and 3.5 stars.

    “I am the white boy at the Martin Luther King Middle. Well, one of two. Kev, my oldest friend and the biggest dick I know, is the other. But if you had to pick just one, it’d be me. There are a few other white kids in the system (unless you count Boston Latin as a public school, which you shouldn’t), and I pretty much know all of them.”

    Dave Greenfeld (aka “Green”) is starting the sixth grade in Boston in 1992. His “hippie parents” have no interest in the latest fashio

    “I am the white boy at the Martin Luther King Middle. Well, one of two. Kev, my oldest friend and the biggest dick I know, is the other. But if you had to pick just one, it’d be me. There are a few other white kids in the system (unless you count Boston Latin as a public school, which you shouldn’t), and I pretty much know all of them.”

    Dave Greenfeld (aka “Green”) is starting the sixth grade in Boston in 1992. His “hippie parents” have no interest in the latest fashion trends or really any of the status symbols that would ease his transition into middle school—they’d rather buy his clothes at thrift shops, and don’t see the need to spend money on fancy sneakers, even if no one else would be caught dead in year-old Filas. He wishes his parents would just send him to private school, like they do his troubled younger brother, Benno.

    Middle school starts pretty much the same way elementary school ended for Dave—the girls pretty much ignore him, and he gets bullied by kids of all races. Even Kev, his oldest friend, would rather avoid him and hang out with the cooler kids. Avoiding bullies and being friendless seems to be Dave’s destiny, unless he aces the placement test that will guarantee him a spot at Boston Latin, the best public high school in the city. If you get into Latin, you’re going to college, guaranteed.

    One day, Dave is surprised when one of his fellow classmates, Marlon Wellings, stands up for him. Marlon lives with his grandmother in the public housing projects down the street from Dave’s house. But Marlon is far from the stereotypical “projects kid”: he is driven by his ambition to get into Latin, he steers clear of those who want to draw him into their gangs or their trouble, and he’s obsessed with the Boston Celtics, especially his favorite player, Larry Bird.

    Mar and Dave become fast friends, and they spend their time hanging out at Dave’s house, watching vintage Celtics games (Mar has them all on videotape), playing “nasketball,” a game Dave made up involving a trampoline, and listening to Mar’s obsession with doing well on the Latin placement test. Dave envies Mar’s devotion to his church (Dave was raised a “secular Jew,” although his family doesn’t observe any religion, which is a frustration to his paternal grandfather, whose entire family was killed in the Holocaust), his fascination with going to Harvard some day, and the way he doesn’t seem to let anything bother him, yet Dave knows he has issues of his own.

    But when Mar is not around, Dave is still being bullied, and confronting the violence that breeds in the urban community in which he lives, as well as among his own classmates. He becomes more and more desperate for his parents to put him in private school because he doesn’t think he’ll be able to do well enough on the Latin placement test to escape his school, but his parents would rather just report Dave’s problems to the principal, making him even more a target. He’s afraid to stand up for himself, let alone his friends, like Mar.

    As Mar begins experiencing problems of his own, problems he doesn’t want to discuss with Dave, Dave realizes that there are differences between the two of them that they keep running into. He never really thought he was actually luckier than his friend, and doesn’t quite understand the struggles that Mar faces, snap judgments from people that don’t even know him. But little by little, those differences strain their relationship, causing both of them to act in ways they never imagined they would.


    Green
    is an insightful, thought-provoking coming-of-age novel which deals with some significant issues without being overly heavy-handed. Sam Graham-Felsen, in his debut novel, provides interesting, and at times poignant, commentary about racial and cultural differences, and how they can strain a friendship. He has also created a fascinating, flawed narrator in Dave, who at times seems much older than his age, and at times reminds you that you’re listening to life filtered through the eyes of a sixth-grader.

    I enjoyed this book but thought the pacing was a little slow, and the same things seemed to happen a few times before the plot advanced. There were a few plot threads that never really got resolved, particularly why Benno refused to speak for more than a year, and there were veiled references to tragedies within Dave’s father’s family that never were addressed. Why allude to things that you’re not willing to wrap them up?

    One warning: there’s a good amount of attention given to Dave’s burgeoning hormones and his increasing obsession with masturbation, so this could make you uncomfortable.

    Much like the main character himself,
    Green
    is imperfect but tremendously engaging. Sam Graham-Felsen has created a refreshing new narrator with a fascinating and moving perspective on growing up in the midst of racial and cultural tensions. It’s a surprisingly timely book, even though it takes place in 1992.

    NetGalley and Random House provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

    See all of my reviews at http://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blo….
    …more

    Navidad Thelamour

    See my EXCLUSIVE interview with the author, Sam Graham-Felsen here!

    I will be surrounded by dudes like this for the rest of my life. White boys and white girls who grew up behind whitewashed fences, who grew up with no idea, for the rest of my life. The force preordained it: Not only will I be surrounded by them, I will become one of them, the thing I hate and can’t escape. Not a white boy or a whitey or a white b*tch, but a white person.

    If you’re looking for a way to start your new year out righ

    I will be surrounded by dudes like this for the rest of my life. White boys and white girls who grew up behind whitewashed fences, who grew up with no idea, for the rest of my life. The force preordained it: Not only will I be surrounded by them, I will become one of them, the thing I hate and can’t escape. Not a white boy or a whitey or a white b*tch, but a white person.

    If you’re looking for a way to start your new year out right, Green is absolutely the way to go. Prepare yourself to be transported by a distinctive voice and a story line that screams with authenticity. More than authentic—it was one that mirrored what middle school was like for me in the 90s: the same cliques, the same typecasts, the same social rules. This novel transported me back to those days, back to those vibrations in the air, to that slang on our tongues, to those priorities in our pre-teen minds and to those questions that plagued our thoughts night and day about the world around us and our place in it.

    Picture it (in my Estelle Getty voice): Boston, 1992.

    David Greenfeld is one of the only white sixth graders at Martin Luther King Middle School—the “ghetto” school—with no friends, no cool points, and no chance at getting a girl. His Harvard-educated, politically correct, granola parents don’t understand his pleas to be removed from the school, and there seems to be no end to the social torture in sight. Until. He meets Marlon Wellings, an ultra-smart, Boston Celtics-obsessed, black kid from the projects across the street whose street smarts start to rub off on Dave and who’s life in the hood and drive to get out of it spark questions in Dave’s mind he’s never contemplated before.

    In Green, Sam Graham-Felsen gives us a fresh look at the merging of two cultures, literally painting it is a physical intersection of neighborhoods as well as of cultural mores and rules. I couldn’t help but remember another book I’ve reviewed recently that was also a coming-of-age story with a jumping off point from the ’92 L.A. riots—and all the while, I marveled at how much better this story was told, at how much more the voice and experiences rang true. Graham-Felsen brought these characters to life on the page. He gave them hopes and made them my hopes. He made them fall, and I felt the blow myself. And he made them fail, as we all do in life sometimes. It is in those moments that this novel’s heart is most evident and that its impact slammed into me the hardest.

    Through Dave and Marlon, Graham-Felsen explores the color line through the eyes of adolescents still finding themselves amidst the chaos of race relations. What really set this novel apart for me is that he gave us the perspective of the white side of the fence, while still being true to both stories, to both cultures.

    In school the next day, Ms. Ansley shows us another installment of this long, made-for-TV movie we’ve been watching called Roots. When she introduced it, she said we needed to know our history, especially after what happened in L.A…I hear people shifting in their chairs. The violence is one thing: We all know the wounds are just makeup, the whip’s just a prop, the loud crack’s only a sound effect. But the n-word is different. Even if it’s just acting, it’s still the real n-word. I’ve heard it ten thousand times…but always with the soft ending. Hearing it with the hard er …makes my face muscles clench up even thinking about it. All that evil, all that power, packed into two tiny syllables.

    Then, we have ‘the force.’

    As their school year progresses and confrontations are had, as Dave’s belief in religion is explored and his cross into cultures and upbringings other than his own changes his outlook on his surroundings, he begins to ponder the idea of ‘the force,’ his interpretation of race relations around him. He sees it everywhere. It peppers his every interaction with the world around him, and jolts him out of adolescence and into a more adult mindset:

    It seemed like the smoke of those riots spread all across the continent, all the way to Boston, like they were looking for their own Reginald Denny, because as far as I could tell they stepped for no other reason than the fact that I was white. But as I ran away…I began to wonder if maybe I was looking at them the wrong way, the same way I must have stared at the TV screen when those dudes bundled Denny—a shook and boggled look that said, You are predators—and maybe that made them want to treat me like prey. All summer, I tried to deny the force, but I felt it every time I got checked on my way past the Shaw Homes…And I felt ashamed of that…and yeah, I’ve been feeling ashamed that the force has been with me, pretty much nonstop…

    Green was an entertaining read and one that provoked thought. There were moments when I laughed out loud and, yes, even a moment when I cried. There’s something for everyone within these pages, because we all know at least one of these characters, from the granola do-gooders to that kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Here’s your chance now to get glimpse into their world. I wouldn’t be saying enough to say that I highly recommend this book for readers of all sizes, colors and creeds who are ready to open their minds and their outlooks. I even recommend it for all ages, because the cultural boundaries explored within Green are real and not to be ignored. The tragedies of everyday life surrounding us are real and not to be downplayed. And the line between the haves and the have nots, the clueless and the culturally aware, the predators and the prey is real and should never, ever be doubted. 4.5 stars. *****

    *I received a copy of this novel from the publisher, Random House, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.

    The Navi Review Twitter

    Exclusive SAM GRAHAM-FELSEN INTERVIEW: A Voice for America: Sam Graham-Felsen Speaks Candidly On Reflecting the Turbulence of American Culture Through the Eyes of Middle Schoolers
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    Esil

    Nov 12, 2017

    rated it
    really liked it

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    Green is definitely going to elicit a broad range of reactions. It takes on a fraught topic, and does so without providing easy answers. But despite a few reservations, I found myself fully emotionally engaged — even teary at times. David is 12 years old, describes his parents as old school hippies, and is one of the only white kids in his middle school in Boston in the early 1990s. He has a hard time finding his place, keeps begging his parents to send him to private school, and ends up becomi

    …more