If you’re a regular around here, you know that one of my resolutions every year is to read more. This year, I only set my goal at one book per month, so 12 total books and I’m already well on my way to achieving that! Well on my way meaning, I’m 2.25 books in… which is right on schedule. In February, I discovered Blogging for Books thanks to my friend Nicole. My first book was the novel Dodgers by Bill Beverly. Keep reading for my review of this super interesting and eye-opening book.
Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.
Dodgers is not a book I would pick up on my own, which is why I’m so glad I chose it via BfB. I usually read either a) chick-lit type books, girly best sellers or b) crime thrillers. While this would probably be considered a crime novel, or at least involving a crime, I rarely pick up a book that doesn’t have a female main character. As I get older, I am trying to reach out into different genres of books and while this is still a fiction novel, the subject is vastly different than what I most often pick up.
I can’t really say that I’m very familiar with gangs, nor is it really an area of humanity that I am interested in. But for whatever reason, this novel really sucked me in! Sure, I was stuck in an airport for hours, but I mean I really, really wanted to keep reading it when the flight was over.
I will say that the beginning started out a bit fast-paced and hard to follow. The writer has a distinct writing style that’s quick and short, with more of a slang tone to it that fits the subjects, characters and events. I don’t know if I got used to it, or if it changed throughout the book as the boys matured, but I did stop noticing the difference in voice. While I liked the main character from the beginning, and wanted him to win the whole time, I really enjoyed all of the characters despite their misguided actions (without giving too much away). All of the characters are developed so well, which is easy to do when the scene of 70% of the book is the 4 of them in a car driving across the country. Mishap upon mishap, dangerous situation after sketchy situation, you really get to know the characters and want to fight for them the whole time.
Once the boys begin their road trip, and all of the characters are introduced, the book really gets good. I was looked once I was a third of the way through. The middle of the book is just crazy while the boys have minor and major run-ins with dangerous folks, changes in the plan and quick thinking on their feet. And finally, the important part, the murder. But how does the aftermath shake out? So much better than I could have imagined and, to me, a big twist in what you think would happen from the beginning of the story! I just loved the ending. But I don’t want to give it away, so check it out for yourself! It’s a quick read that you’ll have finished within 5-6 hours or one weekend.
I received the digital copy of this book via Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. As always, all opinions are my own!