In This Alternately Witty And Heartbreaking Debut Novel, Gabriel Bump Gives Us An Unforgettable Protagonist, Claude McKay Love Claude Isn T Dangerous Or Brilliant He S An Average Kid Coping With Abandonment, Violence, Riots, Failed Love, And Societal Pressures As He Steers His Way Past The Signposts Of Youth Childhood Friendships, Basketball Tryouts, First Love, First Heartbreak, Picking A College, Moving Away From Home Claude Just Wants A Place Where He Can Fit As A Young Black Man Born On The South Side Of Chicago, He Is Raised By His Civil Rights Era Grandmother, Who Tries To Shape Him Into A Principled Actor For Change Yet When Riots Consume His Neighborhood, He Hesitates To Take Sides, Unwilling To Let Race Define His Life He Decides To Escape Chicago For Another Place, To Go To College, To Find A New Identity, To Leave The Pressure Cooker Of His Hometown Behind But As He Discovers, He Cannot There Is No Safe Haven For A Young Black Man In This Time And Place Called America Percolating With Fierceness And Originality, Attuned To The Ironies Inherent In Our Twenty First Century Landscape, Everywhere You Don T Belong Marks The Arrival Of A Brilliant Young Talent I worry readers are going to be expecting something from this book that is very different from what they receive, and this will only drag down the rating Everywhere You Don t Belong is definitely a book very much about the issues of social justice and racism, but it is very much written in a clever, darkly comic manner This is a novel for fans of David Foster Wallace and Adam Levin, particularly the latter The same kind of quirky characters with endearing nicknames you d find in The Instructions are here The build up to a battle to end all battles Infinite Jest s tennis war or The Instructions Armageddon is also here, but the payoff isn t quite as epic as either of those provided Although I have a love hate relationship with Infinite Jest, I thoroughly enjoyed The Instructions and I do think Everywhere You Don t Belong is an excellent companion piece.Given the length of Everywhere You Don t Belong a fourth of the aforementioned tomes and the popularity of the subject matter, I do think this book will fall into the hands of many readers who are unfamiliar with postmodernism They may be looking for an entirely believable story, and when what they get isn t realism, nor is it something they can equate with an established genre, I think they may be too quick to dismiss it.But look at me, spending all my time talking about what other readers are potentially going to do Here s what I think of this novel I enjoyed much of this book The opening chapters where we re introduced to Claude s life and his friends is stellar I wish I d been able to spend time with Nugget, Bubbly, and Jonah The conversations that happened between Claude s grandmother and her friend Paul were so outlandishly entertaining Many of these chapters felt like short stories from the life of Claude, giving the reader an idea of different aspects of his life rather than a joined narrative Eventually, the narrative becomes cohesive For me, the concluding chapters didn t carry the same heft as the first half of the book, but I was still pleased with them There s just a sharpness to the wit and language of the first half that I think was missing in the end Everywhere You Don t Belong comes out in February 2020 And if I haven t made it clear yet, I recommend this novel for fans of Adam Levin. I was grateful to receive an ARC copy of this It s such a good book The first half is lyrical and fragmented in a beautiful, strong, and original way It centers on a child living with his family in South Side Chicago yes, that s Obama land and is a mixture of Black coming of age and reflection on racial injustice There is a riot, the repercussion of which will be felt throughout the book, and it s a beautifully and heartrendingly described riot pain and injustice palpable and searing The child s family is unorthodox and also solid and loving and quirky and funny In the second half Claude, the protagonist, manages to get away and go to University, where the trauma of his insecure and violent childhood inevitably follows him The adventures of Claude in Wisconsin are both funny and terrifying The novel turns traditional, a love story becomes part of it, and the rhythm accelerates Maybe this part is not as magical and surprising as the first, but this is a debut novel and, heck, it is pretty damn good.I am a White immigrant to the United States and I will never understand the Black experience, but I will never stop trying, bc understanding others and in the process, ourselves is what we must do This book did something to me It is not exactly written for me, but what I got from it is a deeper understanding of the fragility of Black life in America, and also of the brilliance and joy of Black life in America When it comes to American Black life there is something that s very much akin to orientalism We all want to be a little bit Black I haven t given much thought to why marginalized cultures are so profoundly appealing to those who belong in the mainstream, and to why this attraction can be simultaneously infused with the deepest, most heinous racism, but it s definitely a thing I think we should fight it At the same time, though, we are given the amazing opportunity to enjoy art that is produced in the immensely fruitful place that is the margins, and I think we should consume it as much as possible I am not sure whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars so I will round up for now I don t really know how to describe this book except that it is different and wild and I liked it It feels futuristic but it s set in present day It feels old and new at the same time Claude, the main character, is both sensitive and brave, smart and not so smart He is a smart teenager who makes some good choices and some bad choices The first half of the book reads like short stories And while the second half of the book is unbelievable, Claude is believable and so you read and root for him This was an interesting book that is very timely but with a very different tone I think people will enjoy it.Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book Actual rating is somewhere between 3.5 4 stars I just can t put my finger on it review to come. Everywhere You Don t Belong is a very good debut novel Gabriel Bump s characters, Claude, Janice, Grandma, and Paul, show a lot of passion, whether it be anger, love or laughter The elders, Grandma and Paul, have found their place, Chicago s South Shore At least, it s a known Grandma tells Claude, The entire universe is ruined And no one wants us anywhere She thinks this will keep her grandson in Chicago, but Claude knows it s not for him and Janice finds out almost too late that it s not for her either The book takes the reader with them to find their place Claude moves to Missouri and eventually, Janice ends up there, too Along the way, we re reminded that not much has changed since the 60s There s still racial hatred, injustice and violence Professor Connie Stove s dialogues as well as the caricature taco guy Martin had me shaking my head and also cringing because Bump was so well on target Sometimes I was frustrated by what I took to be Claude s ambivalence or inaction I thought it watered down his character a bit He could still be confused or questioning without, to me, almost escaping the pages Aside from this, I still liked the book and thought a lot could be said for Gabriel Bump s first attempt I look forward to another by this author I think it will be even stronger and powerful. Everywhere You Don t BelongBook Review 4 5Gabriel Bump Algonquin Books Place is everything Or is it Can your life change based on where you live Why I was interested in this book Honestly, my mom is from South Shore the South Side of Chicago that is featured in this book, so I was intrigued After reading the book s blurb I realized that this would be a book about perseverance or not based on personality, nurture and environment.My assessment What a great read It was not as detrimental as I thought it might be Granted, it was heavy Chicago race riots, high school bullying, gangs, being profiled based on skin color, etc But, those are situations The question the book asked, for me, is how do situations like these, place and escape, and family affect a person s life, help shape their future, affect any change for the better, or define someone s identity Yep, heavy But touching.Stories of the human condition From the lens of a high schooler who is socially, and personally, awkward the story is about discovery, overcoming what is thrown at you even if you might be na ve to what is being thrown at you , trying to figure yourself out, and growing up While the main character s support network is as helpful as his adversaries are hurtful, Claude rolls with the situations presented to him But he doesn t roll over as might be suspected for such a lost soul He has goals and wants to meet them, but the obstacles that get in his way push them back as much as his support network not necessarily agreeing with his aspirations.I recommend this book for urbanites, suburbanites and ruralites alike There s so much discovery and, frankly, the story is dark, edgy, quirky and fast paced.Full disclosure I received an advance copy of this book through NetGalley dot com in exchange for an honest review I would not have selected this book had I not been interested in it based on the description.Read of my reviews at tBelong review book book review SouthSide DystopianRealism AlgonquinBooks GabrielBump TuggleGrassBlues Tuggle Grass Reviews TuggleGrassReviews NetGalley As a white Midwesterner, I must say I felt a little voyeuristic peering into the world of a South Side Chicago teen as he navigated his way through life As I read EVERYWHERE YOU DON T BELONG, I was repeatedly struck with how much mental fortitude can be cemented at a very early age For some, strength and bravery are developed through strong family encouragement and societal achievements For others, it is forged from repeated loss and boldly overcoming overwhelming obstacles Often the media portrays life on the South Side of Chicago as either gang warfare or Michelle Obama But where is the in between The place most urban Americans live Author, Gabriel Bump takes us on a journey through the eyes of an everyday urban family living in a challenging neighborhood He wanted his South Side readers to recognize themselves in his fictional but true to life story The tempo of EVERYWHERE YOU DON T BELONG moves at a fast clip It s a reading style that takes a second to get used to But once you re in the rhythm, good luck putting the book down There are abrupt but brief jumps to the future weaved throughout the telling of this story of one young black man who can t quite find his place in the world Death and abandonment are reoccurring themes in this generational story The sheer determination to do better boils underneath all the chaos The time period is predominantly during the Obama administration a proud moment for any Chicagoan Change is promised but does the everyday black American see it The main character is searching for the place where he belongs It isn t the civil rights activism of his grandmother s time but it also doesn t seem to be in a college classroom either He calls to question all of our individual stories of belongingness Mixed with humor and racial integrity, EVERYWHERE will make you think, will awaken you to societies and cultures vastly different than your own, and will ultimately ask you how you find your own place in our world This is a strong debut novel written from a place of knowing, believing and surviving. Claude is your typical high school kid, trying to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life He lives on the South Side of Chicago, where life is not always the greatest Surviving his parents leaving him, rioting and violence in his hometown When he meets Janice, he think he may have found the one person to make the journey a little better, but Janice has plans of her own that may or may not include Claude Together or apart, will Claude be able to make it through this tumultuous life, or will he fall victim to his circumstances Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read and review this book I can say that I was hooked on this book from the start Claude seems like a shy guy who doesn t have too many friends Not that he doesn t want friends, but he just likes to stick to himself At first while reading the book, I was a little concerned about the writing style But it fits for a boy of that age who is unsure of himself This book was a quick read with a lot of dry humor You don t hear as many reports about the violence in Chicago, but it is ever prevalent Thankfully, I have never felt the fear of violence just from sitting on my porch, but Claude feels it and even though he tries to escape it, it seems to follow him I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend for high school boys who are unsure of their future. Claude is a young black man growing up in Chicago s South Side His parents left when he was young and he has been raised by his grandmother and Paul, a close friend of the family Claude is looking for a sense of belonging as his neighborhood is caught up in riots, gang violence, and the trials of being a teenager In a bid to escape the pressure, Claude leaves for college in Missouri, but quickly discovers that the pressure of Chicago is not that different from the pressure anywhere else, and an escape from home does not always mean an escape from society s expectations I look forward to reading of Gabriel Bump s work, because I enjoyed this book The subject isn t particularly light, but moments of humor shine through Claude is an utterly believable protagonist, capable of deep and complex emotion, but not consumed by it all the time The rhythm of the book propels readers along, and the act of reading is as enjoyable as the story that gets told Recommended for book groups, general fiction readers, and those who want to try out what is generally referred to as literary fiction I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review. This debut novel is filled with raw emotion and the gritty reality of inner city life Alternating between heartbreak, hope, fear, first loves, and violence, Gabriel Bump highlights what it s like to grow up in a world filled with people who want to punish you for nothing than the color of your skin The first 20% or so of the book felt disjointed and was filled with short, choppy sentences This almost caused me to stop reading, but I m so glad that I kept going As the main character, Claude, grows up, the prose gets stronger It s a risky move for an author to allow the strength of their writing to grow alongside the age of their MC, but Bump pulled it off nicely Instead of seeming like a cheap literary trick, it really brought home Claude s evolution from a junior high student to a college student The choices Claude makes along the way are rooted in a mixture of innocence, fear, love, and the desire to get away from the South Shore s violence As he matures, he learns heartbreaking truths that rob him of his innocence but never manage to erase his tender heart Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing an ARC This review contains my honest, unbiased opinion.
- 264 pages
- Everywhere You Don't Belong
- Gabriel Bump
- 15 November 2017 Gabriel Bump