'Green' by Sam Graham Felsen was a wonderful, coming-of-age novel that was honest and felt real. The story was thought-provoking and explored the complexties of relgious, economical, and racial differences. Felsen wrote the book based on his own childhood, which he spent in Boston attending an inner city middle school.
Dave Greenfield is the narrator; a nerdy, Jewish 6th grader who is starting middle school at Martin Luther King Jr., which is a predominantly black school. Green's parents are progressive liberals and believe in public education and want Dave to experience and learn new things. Dave on the other hand is one of the only white kids attending the school and is picked on constantly, for being white and not being cool, so Dave desperately wants to transfer to a private school. One day Dave meets Marlon, a black teen who lives near him. Marlon leads a tough and very different life compared to Dave, but despite their differences the boys end up bonding over the one thing they do have in common, their love of the Celtics.
Felsen's take on race and privilege was authentic and you can tell that this was the author's own experience growing up. Felsen's explanation of "the force" was masterful and this inner struggle that we all deal with to overcome hate. "The force is a match and a muzzle. It doesn't just spark the hate, it smothers the love, holds us back from the most natural shit of all – rooting for the home team." The book constantly leads us back to growing up - the need to find one's identity and needing to belong. The characters were sincere, especially Dave, while somewhat unlikeable, brought me back to that horrible age when everything was the worst, because it was the awkward in-between age of when you still wanted to be a kid, but the world was telling you to grow up.
You can find the book Here.