I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Patches Of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr
Published by MUD House Books on February 23, 2010
Genres: High school students, Young Adult
Buy on Amazon
Tony Johnson is a studious young man planning to soon graduate from much more than high school. Although his zip code places him in a Bronx tenement pre "rise of Obama", his sights are set far beyond the trappings of a humble upbringing. Collegiate dreams combined with falling in love with a white classmate put him strongly at odds with his father. He incurs Lionel Johnson's wrath for the sins of ambition and daring to be with Janet Mitchell. Seeing unrealized goals reincarnated in the eyes of his eldest son remind Lionel of what once could have been, and of what went wrong. His own upbringing in a segregated town established a bitter, prejudiced outlook that is the only legacy he has to pass down to his children. When his job and role as primary breadwinner are lost, Lionel's authority erodes and he drowns disappointment one drink at a time. This affords Tony an opportunity to assert independence rather than allowing history to repeat itself and his fate to be set by chance and circumstance. Throughout the course of a tumultuous year, Tony comes to learn that the world is not as black and white as he and his father's opposing mindsets would suggest.
So I read somewhere that while doing work, one should often take breaks in order to keep focus and keep working hard. So to test that theory I have decided to take a break from my now 40 page paper (the reason I’ve been a bit M.I.A., that and teaching 3 new classes) and write a review for a book I have recently read.
Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr. is to me, on the border of being a young adult book, as it deals with an 18-year old boy and being an adult book, as there are several somewhat explicit sexual situations. Personally, I do not mind a bit of sex in the books I read, but I know other people do mind that.
Essentially Patches of Grey, when one breaks it down, is all about relationships. There is the main character, Tony’s relationship to his girlfriend Janet. There is Tony’s relationship with his family. There is his brother CJ’s relationship to his gang. There is his sister Tonya’s relationship to her hook-up boyfriend. There is the relationship between Tony’s parents. The interactions between these people provide so much information about the people in so few words. I mean, Pickering does not provide 17 pages of exposition and background, one is just sort of thrust into the world and trusted to come to their own conclusions about the characters. I know several interactions and things I had questions about were later explained through conversations the characters had.
I honestly enjoyed the characters. For one, the main character, Tony is African-American. Kudos Mr. Pickering for putting a POC character within your book, and for making Tony seem so real. I mean, Tony is not perfect by any means. To me he seemed like an actual person. He’s not some rich spoiled suburbs kid with no problems, as I see in so much YA today. Instead, he lives in the projects, his dad is a bit of a jerk, his girlfriend is white, and his brother is in a gang. Yet, he still has aspirations to rise above that and go onto college. I love that his struggles and what he endures actually mean something. To me, it didn’t seem superficial. Also, even the jerk characters sort of won me over, we see that Tony’s dad isn’t a huge douche, he actually does so much, but I guess it is hard for him to express it.
In regards to the writing, this book is very well-written. I feel the sentences were selected with care. It isn’t simplistic writing, it is quite literary, so I suppose if you enjoy Jodi Piccoult’s writing style, you will enjoy Pickering. The plot kept smashing my soul into pieces. I mean, I was crushed. I would say, don’t read this book if you don’t have room in your heart, or space in your life, or time in your day to invest in these characters. Just a note – I finished this book last weekend, and I am still thinking about these characters. I think this is definitely a good book to read if you want something more serious or heavy to read. It’s not a beach book at all.
While reading this book, due to the emotional toll it may take on you, sip some chamomile tea, as I hear it is quite calming and soothing, and I know your soul will need some soothing after reading Patches of Grey.