Green by Sam Graham-Felsen

Green

Sam Graham-Felsen

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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A coming-of-age novel about race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America, written by a former Obama campaign staffer and propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable narrator.
 
“A fierce and brilliant book, comic, poignant, perfectly observed, and blazing with all the urgent fears and longings of adolescence.”—Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., 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. 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 American dream.

Praise for Green

“Prickly and compelling . . . Graham-Felsen lets boys be boys: messy-brained, impulsive, goatish, self-centered, outwardly gutsy but often inwardly terrified.”The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“A coming-of-age tale of uncommon sweetness and feeling.”The New Yorker

“A riot of language that’s part hip-hop, part nerd boy, and part pure imagination . . . Green earns . . . a spot on the continuum of vernacular in the American literary tradition.”The Boston Globe

“A heartfelt and unassumingly ambitious book.”Slate


Advance Galley Reviews

This coming of age story was funny in parts, but overall a depressing read. It seems like it's aimed at a younger audience, and after trudging through for a week, I DNF'd. I think it's a great, and important, story for a younger male of a similar age or in a similar situation as David.

I so want to love Green by Sam Graham-Felsen. The discussion of racial and economic inequality is such an important one in our society. What makes this book even more intriguing is the fact that it presents a different perspective on the conversation. The voice of the middle school narrator, however, becomes the challenge in the book. I applaud the intent and the effort although the end result is sadly not for me. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/02/green.html. Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

Wonderful book. I look forward to reading more from this author.

I loved the idea of this novel and what it was trying to tackle. The author created a unique set of characters and the stories were mostly funny. There were times that I felt bored and I was just biding my time until the story was interesting again. Marlon was hands-down my favorite character.

Very disappointed. My iPad died while I had this book. My new iPad would not let me download the previous reading app I used so was not able to read I emailed customer service a minimum of 3 times without ever receiving any help. After half my books expired I figured it out myself was so disappointed in the First to Read customer service department.

While humorous in parts, it's definitely not an infectiously funny story. It's also rather difficult to get into at first. I stuck with it but it was a bit of a chore sometimes when I wasn't as invested in the characters as I like to be when reading. It's a rather tedious book to read at times. Not really my cup of tea.

I had a very hard time getting into this book. I don't like to put books down, especially ones that I have been given but in this case, I just wasn't enjoying the book enough to justify continuing to read it and only made it through the first few chapters. I was initially very interested in the book because I came of age at the same time and in the same state as the protagonist. However, the language the author takes made it difficult for me to take this book seriously even though the author deliberately wrote it that way.

The description calls it "infectiously funny" and there are certainly moments of humor in it, but overall it's a sad story. The struggle to fit in, the struggle to find real friends, and the struggle not to be alone are most vivid in this novel. It took a while to get caught up in the story, and it's not until Mar appears on the scene that it's any more than superficially interesting. Up until then, Dave was too much Holden Caufield for me, full of whining about his adolescent angst. I didn't care for it in "Catcher in the Rye" and I didn't care for it in "Green". Once he meets Mar, the story of their friendship is wonderful. Throughout Dave wrestles with the universal question of how much can we change to be the person we want to be, without losing ourselves in the process? The pessimistic ending also makes it hard to see it as a funny book. Overall, there are moments of humor and moments of intense pain, separated by boredom. I guess it is an accurate depiction of life after all.

David Greenfeld, a Jewish white kid is a minority in his public school. His home life is just as chaotic as his relationship with his peers at “King”. His parents are Harvard attended hippy people, educated but living in the projects as part of their not living in the corporate life they grew up in. I enjoyed getting to know Dave and his friend “Mar” however, the slang Dave used felt forced, like other kids his age, school was hard for him, he didn’t fit in, he was stranger than the other kids and it didn’t help that he was trying to hard to be like the other kids. Maybe the slang was his attempt at fitting in or it was Graham-Felsen’s over use of it that didn’t feel natural to me, it might even be both. I give Graham-Felsen props for writing a coming of age book that address race, religion and social class and doing it with Dave’s wacky Monster style. I’m not sure the female persuasion will go for this book, however my boys would have, Too bad I ran out of time and didn’t get to finish the book. I’ll have to visit the library.

Maybe it would have helped to have been a boy in order to appreciate this coming of age story. Set in Boston in 1992, this book is about David Greenfeld who is a 6th grader and one of only two white boys in a middle school where he is an uncool outsider with the wrong sneakers. He forms a friendship with Marlon Wellings who lives in the projects in David's neighborhood. David's parents are hippies who made professional decisions unlike those of their Harvard classmates. This is why David wound up in this particular public school. I liked the relationship between David and Marlon. The book also gave glimpses of important issues like the impact of racial and economic differences. My favorite scene was a class visit to a city councilman's office. He went to Harvard with David's parents and gave the students a realistic and necessary lesson about systemic racism. However, I really didn't care for the somewhat whiny and masturbation-obsessed David. I might have liked Marlon's story more, but he was not the focus of the book. I wasn't interested in spending time with these boys and their activities. The constant and repetitive slang became tedious. All in all, while this book wasn't bad I can't say that I really enjoyed the experience. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I received a free copy of GREEN from First To Read. I was interested in the proposed plot summary and thought that it might be entertaining and somewhat insightful. However, I wasn't able to get past the first few chapters. The writing felt lazy and came across as actually having been written by a child in middle school rather than a story about one. The characters were under-developed and therefore completely uninteresting. I tried, I really did, but this oddly disjointed tale just could not hold my attention. Thank you very much to First To Read for providing an advance copy for review.

I received a free copy of this book from First to Read for an honest review. I really enjoyed this book and didn't want to put it down. It was interesting reading a book written from the perspective of a middle school boy. David was not at all what I was expecting when I read the synopsis of the book. He is still trying to figure out where he fits in society. Being one of the only white students at his middle school is a constant struggle. The slang David uses was a bit difficult to get used to, but I felt that it made reading a book from his perspective more authentic. David was a difficult character to like because he makes so many mistakes that make it more difficult for him to overcome things in the future. I did get a little tired of reading about him overcoming some typical teenage boy desires, which I thought was mentioned a little too much in the book. But, I really did like the interactions between characters. I enjoyed reading about Marlon and David's friendship develop. The struggles of different races, religions, and mental health was actually very interesting topics seen from David's perspective. I was bit disappointed with how the book ended. I felt that there was more of the story to tell and a I wanted to know more.

Honestly, Green was hard to put down. You see, Dave, the main character, is very much like my son. I hated to stop reading but, my son would need dinner or homework help or to have me listen to his day at school, so I DID have to put it down. The language is middle school typical these days. I don't care for the language used, but it is part of the whole, it makes the story real & readable. I read several sections to my 13 year old son & he laughed and said, "oh yeah, that happens at my school too." We live in a culturally diverse area of Southeast Michigan. Whites are in a narrow majority at the middle school. I found the school class descriptions similar to my son's school. The cliques that form, the lunch table positioning, the bus seating 'rules'. Yes, so familiar I could almost feel the tension and smell the sweat. Green was set in the early 90s, so technology isn't nearly as big as it is these days. Shoes are still important but so is your smartphone. I loved Mar. I was the girl version of Mar growing up. I loved his passion for the Celtics, church & studying. He was a cool kid. I would recommend this book to any parent of a current middle school student. I'm not sure you would learn anything new but you'd certainly take a trip down memory lane! Green is really a good book.

Thank you First To Read for giving me the chance to read an advanced copy of Green by Sam Graham-Felton. After reading this book I am not quite sure how I feel about it. Dave was one of the only white students at his school. He was bullied by most and he became friends with Marion. They bond over their love of the Boston Celtics but at times Marion is distant because of what is happening in his home life. In the end this book just wasn’t for me. The characters were not developed and explored fully.

I usually enjoy YA novels, but this book was difficult for me to finish. I liked the idea of the book- tackling difficult topics like race, poverty, and religion, but the book failed to engage me. The language didn’t flow. I struggled to finish reading the book.

I was very excited to read this book, which takes place in the 90’s, about a Jewish boy who is one of the only white kids at his middle school. Unfortunately, the book was very disappointing. First of all, I am not sure who the audience is for this book. It may have made for a great YA read, but the language is completely vile and impossible to understand (too much slang). In addition to the main character “Green,” there is a brother with special needs, a dad who turned against all things “organized,” such as religion, an Ivy League school and the workforce. There is also a grandfather who is a Holocaust survivor and a smart, black kid from the projects and a mother who only shops at second-hand stores. It sounds like it may be interesting, but the author never fleshes out these characters. So, everyone comes off as two-dimensional. By the end of the book, I couldn’t care less about anyone and I just wanted the book to end, which it did, with absolutely no resolution. 1 out of 5 stars. Thank you to First to Read for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thank you to Penguin Random House First to Read for the advance copy. At the end of this one, I have mixed feelings. I liked that the author tackled race issues (particularly in public education and housing) during the 1990's. Even though we continue to make progress, it is apparent how far we still have to go, and I appreciate authors who keep these issues on the forefront of their writing. However, I felt that this book just fell short in several ways (it was on its way but never quite made it for me). First, the characters. I adored Dave's parents and Marlon and his grandmother, but I felt like they could have been a bit more well developed. There are so many references about Dave's parents' days at Harvard, but we never actually hear what happened. There are vague references to Marlon's mom's mental health issues, but they are vague and left me wanting more information. The one character I could not stand was Dave, which was unfortunate since he is the main character of the novel. Then, there is the pacing and plot. Overall, I felt like things would be starting to get interesting, and then they wouldn't be fully fleshed out, and I was left wanting more. I wanted more about what Marlon was experiencing when he was missing school (yes...I get that this was from Dave's point of view, but it would have helped the overall plot advancement). I wanted Dave to realize at some point how completely selfish he could be in so many ways. I wanted Dave to have grown and learned more by the end of the book, because I don't felt that his growth was reflected as much as it should have been. I think this was a decent read overall, but I think it could have been even better.

I received a free advanced reader copy of this book from FirstToRead.com for an unbiased review. GREEN is a coming of age story set in Boston, circa 1992. David Greenfield is a white boy whose hippie parents buy everything at thrift stores and form a community garden next to the crumbling projects a block from his house. So he, and everyone around him, is shocked when Marlon, a black kid who's bedroom window faces the community garden, decides to befriend David. Their unlikely friendship grows over a shared love of the Celtics and Larry Bird. David struggles with religion, trying to figure out where he falls into things based on what those around him believe. Marlon struggles with surviving a life he wants so desperately to escape. Funny in some points, heart breaking in others, GREEN is a realistic look at race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America. Growing up in a relatively urban area and having been in the sixth grade during the time period this book is set in, I found it even more relatable than some others might, but I feel like the book can be enjoyed by all.

3/5 stars “It seemed like the smoke of those riots spread all across the continent, all the way to Boston.” Green is a unique coming of age story, told from 12 year old David Greenfield, growing up in Boston in the early 90’s. The year Green focuses on for the entirety of the novel, is the year 92-93. We start when Dave is entering 6th grade, and the novel ends right before his 7th grade year begins. The year is significant, because this school year is a milestone year for Dave. He has the only chance to take an entrance exam to get into Latin, a school that grooms students for college. The school is also notoriously a feeder school for Harvard. And Dave feels that Harvard is the answer to all of his problems. Or at least out of the ghetto he believes he and his family lives in. Even more significantly, Dave feels very self-conscious attending King Middle School. He is one of a very small population of white kids, and he feels after the riots and Rodney King trial, that suddenly, his being white is more noticeable to his peers than before. His first few weeks of school are exactly as he expects: being ignored, or hassled, feeling left out and left behind. His parents won’t buy him new shoes or stylish clothes. Even his quasi best friend ditches him for cooler friends. But life begins to look up when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him to a bully and their friendship begins to grow. “It’s starting to hit me: Mar isn’t just my best friend, he’s my first. Up until now I had no idea just how lonely I’d been.” I am on the fence with this book, and my review may contain some mild spoilers, though I will try and avoid them as much as possible. This novel is based on the author’s own childhood and experiences. And, in that sense, I can’t argue. I can say, however, that I didn’t really connect with Dave and the style that it’s written is very distracting. Mostly, I’m referring to the language. So. Much. Slang. Here’s the thing with slang. I get that kids use slang words. It’s that this is a book written from Dave’s perspective, solely in the first person. And I just don’t buy that a kid would talk this much slang, all the time, as the voice in his head. It didn’t feel natural or real to me. I’ve never met anyone who talks like this kid. Maybe they exist, maybe this really is how a kid would hear himself speak. I don’t know. But for me, it didn’t feel real. It’s hard to say if the author chose to write that way to highlight the way Dave felt out of place and was trying so hard to fit in. Because the kid does try to fit in. He is ashamed of his own personality, or so it seems, and only wants to fit in with the cool kids. So perhaps the slang is simply really driving home how hard he tries and how awkward he really is. It certainly felt awkward reading, so I can see that angle. I also have an issue with how his brother Benno is handled. We know that Benno has chosen not to speak for over a year. That he had an accident, where he cut himself, and since then has been under therapeutic care and attends a special school. Dave often resents the treatment Benno gets. One example is how Benno gets tater tots with meals, while Dave is forced to eat homegrown vegetables and rarely gets processed food. Benno often gets to stay home from school and has little rules dictating his behavior at home. I find it odd that parents who are so invested in one child, would be so oblivious to the anxiety of their other child. I suppose it happens, parents often can make a healthy child feel overlooked in the face of a sick one, but they rarely even try to explain what’s going on with Benno when Dave tries to talk to them about his own struggles. Even worse, we never even get to understand or learn why or what Benno is going through. But what really bothers me about the book the most, is that Dave doesn’t seem to learn any lessons at all. He complains, often and loudly, about no one having his back. Yet, he repeatedly lets his friends get beat up and picked on. Even when Mar spells this out to him, he can’t muster the courage to even speak up, let alone jump in to help. He acknowledges his fear, but never seems to comprehend that no one will defend him unless he starts defending either himself or others. Dave is obviously a kid so desperate for attention and approval, that he is willing to sacrifice his friends feelings and needs if someone ‘better’ is around and offering either of those things. And he doesn’t seem to understand why his relationship with Mar changes after betrayal after betrayal occurs. He is oblivious. Which I would expect of a kid, but Mar is patient and explains his reactions multiple times. Dave just doesn’t want to settle for anything he perceives as less. Unfortunately, Mar falls into that less category too frequently to maintain a semblance of a friendship. And while Mar seems to realize this, Dave never sees his role in the distance. “His head is tilted to the universe, but he looks more lonely than awed. Everyone else is smiling and pointing, and he’s just standing there, squinting, biting his upper lip.” A good come of age novel should have an “aha” moment. A moment where the main characters realizes where he went wrong and attempts to fix it. Dave sort of has this moment at the end, a moment where he confronts his old best friend and tries to talk to Mar one last time. But it felt like very little, and far too late. And even then, I never got the sense that Dave really understood why Mar distanced himself from Dave. This book is supposed to be about class and privilege. And while it’s clear to the reader that Dave is sort of spoiled and immature and very privileged, Dave himself never really seems to have his “aha” moment. He realizes he has made wrong choices in regards to his friendship with Mar, but it’s completely unclear by the end of the book whether he really understands how much easier his life is simply because of the color of his skin. He feels a lot of resentment towards the other kids in his neighborhood because of the color of his skin, but he never seems to piece together that this resentment is because of his privilege not him. Maybe that realization is difficult for a sixth grader to comprehend, but since so much of this novel hinges on that dynamic, it’s hard to sympathize with a kid who feels picked on, and can identify racist behavior without understanding at least on some level that he lives a far different life than his peers. Especially when he visually sees the drastic differences in their living conditions and lives. I’ve read books that I’ve enjoyed without liking the main character. But, this is a tough one, because he is the story. And I just didn’t like him. Maybe I was meant to sympathize with him feeling ostracized and confused about who he is. But he just didn’t come across as likable. He needed more redeeming moments and to become aware of his privilege far earlier in the novel. Thank you to the First To Read program for sending an early copy to read and review.

This was a very good coming of age story. I felt like David (Dave) tended to whine but when he became friends with Marlon (Mar), it decreased slightly. I loved how he described his family to the reader and the way he described his brother. The story itself dragged at points and did not hold my attention, so I tended to put it down during these instances. I really think it would have been better if the author had put altering narrators from both Dave and Mar in it. I really agree with a lot of the others that I felt Mar needed to have a voice in this novel and not just as Dave as the narrator.

I wanted to like this one and tried, but could not get more than a couple of chapters in. I thought it was a great concept but I did not like the main character, or really the storyline so far. I see what the author was trying to do, but I thought this could have been developed a little more and it would be so much better. For example, Green should have been a little stronger on his own, and not looking to Kev so much. I normally like YA a lot, but not this one, it didn’t hold my attention enough.

I thought that this was a very interesting coming-of-age story that deals with some very difficult issues involving race and religion, but not in a heavy-handed way. I liked that the author maintained the slang and vocabulary from the 1990s and made references to what was hip back then; it made the story relevant and also gave me some insight to what was going on back in those days. I also really liked Dave and Mar's friendship. Their characters were really well developed and their camaraderie was sweet to see. The story is told entirely from Dave's perspective, and I liked that a lot because it allowed the reader to see the growth and change in Dave as he witnesses events happening to him and to Mar. However, I found the plot to be a little slow. There was no variety to the events and it seemed that a lot of repetitive instances had to take place before the author decided that he had made his point and could move on. This was really one of the main reasons why it was hard for me to get through the novel. But I think that the entire story was really well-written and had great characters. I'm giving this a 3/5 stars and would recommend this to anyone who likes coming-of-age books that look at divisions of race and class.

Post-Rodney King 1992 in Boston. David Greenfeld is a Jewish "white boy" struggling to fit in at the predominantly black middle school. He's at the bottom of the social pyramid at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School - constantly teased and waiting to get out and start over in high school. Surprisingly, he makes a new friend with Marlon Wellings. They bond over Celtics tapes and dream about getting into Harvard. Growing pains stress their friendship and the divide between neighborhoods, schools, and race weighs down on Dave and Mar. This book was a surprise hit for me. Dave is truly 'green' in more ways than one. Graham-Felsen captures that teenage awkwardness that colors every 'first'-- first date, first real friendship and first fight. It's a sharp take on adolescence and racial division from a truly unique voice. The lingo is a bit mystifying at first but it's rhythmic and engaging. Highly recommended read for adults.

I wanted to like the book and continue reading till the end because of the subject. However, I could not finish beyond 30%. The writing did not do it for me, which is a pity because I think the story could have been taken in a great direction.

So, I really did not enjoy this book. I see what it was trying to do with helping this young white kid learn his privilege, but it just wasn't successful. The narrator is a 6th grade kid, who thinks he pretty fly for a white guy. The language he uses is tough, no one thinks that way, at least, not anyone I know of. Also, some of the scenes were unnecessary. Without spoiling, for those who've read it, I mean specifically 'tactics.' I had to keep reminding myself that the character was in 6th grade, 11 or 12 years old. But still, it was just tough to get through. I loved Mar, I wanted Mar's story. I wanted to know more about what he was going through, I wanted DAVE to know more about what Mar was going through. Not successful for me. Especially when you have Own Voices books like The Hate U Give and Dear Martin out there. 2/5 Shots.

Interesting take on the 90's coming of age story. Extremely well written! Although it was not my normal literary genre, I enjoyed reading it. I don't understand why people found the language offensive, it felt real and appropriate for the time period, location, and adolescent nature. It also made me super curious about the Celtic curse! Excited to see more works from Sam Graham-Felsen.

To be perfectly honest, I couldn't even get halfway through the book. Not that it is badly written; it's very well written, but just didn't hook me.

I usually enjoy YA books. This was one was so-so. Language was offensive and not what I would expect from YA.

I mostly enjoyed "Green". It's a good coming of age story. However I had a problem with the slang. A lot of it was past me, and it took a while to figure out some of the meanings. And at times it was hard to believe Dave was as young as he is. I almost gave up about a third of the way in but I'm glad I finished.

This book tackled adolescence, race, and privilege in the 90’s in an interesting way. In a lot of ways this book reminded me of Fresh Off the Boat (both the book and the show based on the book) because of the 90’s rap/hip hop influence. Overall, I don’t quite know what to make of it. It offered a viewpoint you don’t hear about all too often which I liked. I think the book was successful in terms of a coming to age book but in regards to race and privilege, it could have been better.

I really wanted to like and relate to this book since I am from the same time period, but found the language to be offensive and offputting for the YA genre. The main character is a follower and I think the book could have been better told by his friend Marlon.

I normally like YA books, but this one didn't appeal to me at all. Maybe it was the vernacular; I'm not really sure. I felt that Green was a bit of a weenie, and I got tired of him.

This book was very difficult for me to get into, and I ended up having to DNF it. I really wanted to like this book-- the blurb sounded so promising! All the slang and Dave Greenfeld or "Green" the main character really grated on my nerves. I liked how the novel attempted to present important and timely issues, but I never felt like I got a solid statement (although granted, I did not get to the end of the book, so perhaps I would've found it there).

I couldn't get into this book to the point that I had to DNF it. I was roughly the same age as the main character in the year when the book was set & the slang was overdone. It read like a bad after school special that kept trying to repeat the fact that white males, the one group with the most advantages in the world, face discrimination too. Maybe it improved as it went along, but I couldn't tough it out.

3.5 Stars Green is a lot of things in this story. It's the nickname of the main character, 12-year-old Dave Greenfeld. Green is also the color of his (and his new bestie Mar's) favorite team, the Boston Celtics. Green is the color of the trees in the park that separates the rich people houses from the housing projects; it's the color associated with inexperience and envy. All of these things play a major role in the novel. I was engaged an entertained throughout the novel, but I wasn't blown away. There is some really heavy subject matter in the plot, but it's told through the perspective of a 12-year old kid who struggles with being the token white boy at school and spends most of his time trying too hard. Even the slang tries a little too hard. It's not "Tom Sawyer," but I really was pulling for Dave to figure out how to be a better friend. The character of Marlon had much more depth, but we only know as much about him as Dave Greenfeld knows, and Green's too busy jerking it and feeling humiliated by everything in his own life to dig deeper into Mar's storyline. It was a quick read and even when I was annoyed with the characters I was entertained. I guess I felt like important issues simmered throughout the book but never made a poignant statement. Thank you to Penguin's First to Read program for providing me with an advance copy for review.

I really wanted to like this book, I did. It wasn't the typical read for me and it sounded promising. There were certainly parts of the book I found enjoyable, but at the end I was left feeling unsatisfied. The biggest problem for me was the all the slang. It was over the top and excessive. While I was a mere toddler in 1992, I have watched my share of 90's entertainment and have never heard the term "shorty" used so many times. There were also so many loose ends and anti-climatic wrap ups in the book that left me wanting more. Why did Benno stop speaking for a year? Then when he finally does speak, it's glossed over like it was no big deal. Finding out Mar has to stay at King was just dropped in at the end. I felt like that deserved a more climatic reveal than what was actually written. We also don't know very much about Mar and what he goes through. A dual narrative switching between Mar and Green would of served the book well. The friendship between Green and Mar was the saving grace of the book. Graham-Felsen does an excellent job portraying a believable friendship of two pre-teens. I bought the friendship as a sincere one, and did laugh out loud a few times during their moments together.

The official blurb is that this is a story of race and privilege, but more than that, it's a story of a friendship. The friendship between Green and Mar has all kinds of things going against it. They're from different places and are headed different places, they are of different races, different religions, different money, different (but neighboring) neighborhoods. Green is self-deprecating, and Mar seems to have all the better character traits: Mar likes to read and Green doesn't (so now you know who I'm rooting for), Mar stands up to bullies and Green doesn't, Mar understands the difference race makes in his life and Green doesn't, Mar helps to take care of the mental health issue in his family and Green just complains about his. By far the biggest barrier to their relationship is their inability to talk to each other, which rings true for 6th grade boys, but deprives us of Mar's side of the story. Green has moments of growth, but for the most part he's a weak kid, and the growth comes in his realization that he shoulda done something different. In the end, he's not very likable, but also not despicable. The author raises some good questions that are worth discussing. I wouldn't say it's masterful, but I think it's appropriate for adults and young readers (with a warning on the language, but they've most likely heard it all), and a good quick read. I got a copy to review from First to Read.

Summary: David Greenfeld is one of the two white boys at Martin Luther Middle School in the 90’s.  Everyone makes fun of him, and he can’t make friends.  He feels out of place, not knowing the right way to behave, or having the correct gear to fit in.  Having hippies as parents is definitely not going to help him fit in.  Enter Marlon Wellings. He’s one of the black kids from the projects and doesn’t get a lot of hassle at school.  He’s also bookish, nerdy, neurotic and a Celtics fan when no one else is.  No one is more surprised than Green when Mar stands up for him.  No longer alone, the two spend more time together and help one another fight against the stereotypes placed upon their race.  They watch vintage basketball games together and get ready for their rise to Harvard.  As Green invites Mar into his world though, he notices that he knows nothing of Mar’s and begins to see all the advantages he’s been given that Mar hasn’t. My thoughts: Whoever wrote the blurb on Goodreads needs a raise.  This book sounded amazing and necessary- one of those that would rock me to my core.  I think my expectations were too high.  As a character, I must say I hated Green.  He was constantly trying to fit in, changing who he was and what he liked in hopes of being popular.  He HAD to have this outfit or those shoes or he would never “fit in”.  He HAD to go to private school because Martin Luther was far too Ghetto.  He complained constantly about his brother Benno getting tons of breaks, when it was obvious that not only did Benno have serious issues that were never really addressed but that he adored his big brother.  Then there was the language.  Green’s narrative was so fraught with slang from the 90’s as to make it almost farcical.  I was in school at that time and I never heard anyone speaking this way- ever.  It actually detracted from the flow of the story for me, and made it hard to take it seriously.  Honestly, I wish this book had been centered on Marlon instead.  For one, he was the more likeable character by far.  Secondly, I feel like the social divide would have been more clear through his eyes as Green was usually focused only on himself.    I mean, yes, there was character growth at the end, and odd moments of brilliance in the writing- like how the divide between races was explained.  The inescapable force.  It made sense.  It wasn’t enough to save the book though; and what might have been one of the most important books of 2018 became…. just okay.  Two and a half stars

Sam Graham-Felson and his book Green just may be my new favorite author and book. Green is an amazing story that is gritty and in your face. It tells the story of white boy struggling to fit in to an all black school and the struggle against racism of any kind. It talks of the Rodney King/Reginald Denny incidents and the buried hatreds that came to the surface. It is an unforgetable story.

This book was a very hard read for me. I just could not get into it at all. I wish we could have gotten the story more from Mar's perspective. But not a lot to say about this book unfortunately.

This seems like a book that I would really enjoy: it’s a coming-of-age novel that addresses race, privilege, and how strange it is to be in middle school, but it’s written in the perspective of a sixth-grade boy, struggling to fit in and excel in school. Meaning, it’s stressful. It succeeds at identifying that systemic issues hold people back, no matter how hard they work. It makes that point clearly. Worth a read, not exceptional.

While I understand that the narrator of this book is a male middle schooler, I felt as though he was written by someone who’s never met middle schoolers before. I understood the slang, but it was definitely cringe inducing and felt overdone. As though he was writing the character as a poser. I couldn’t finish the book, it just wasn’t for me.

I really enjoyed this book. It was interesting to read a book about middle school and middle schoolers from a male perspective. It’s easy to think of adolescence as a fraught time specifically for girls, but it isn’t necessarily easier for boys. This book does a really good job of encapsulating that. As far as the deeper discussion of race and racism, I enjoyed the lack of easy answers. As someone who also came of age in the early 90s, there were (and are) no easy answers to be had. I felt like David, like all of us, is trying to muddle through the best he can. It seemed very honest. Overall I enjoyed this book very mych and look forward to reading more by this author.

Green is set in Boston in the early 1990s, a setting and time period I enjoyed as I lived within an hour of the setting of the book during this time. I loved the local references and time period; the novel is rich with details that set the time and place of the story. The characters are unique and complex but I struggled with the main character as a sixth grader. His dialogue and narration often felt like that of a much older person (older teen, perhaps) though some of his activities and desires were redolent of a pre-teen. Graham-Felsen does a good job driving the plot forward through the different desires of the characters - and their desires remain distinct through the lens of their different backgrounds/races/religions/cultures. I felt a bit disappointed in the ending as I'd hoped for a bit more clarification on a few plot lines, but overall I enjoyed Graham-Felsen's debut novel and hope he writes more books set in Boston.

I was looking forward to "Green" by Sam Graham-Felsen, but did not enjoy it as much as I had hoped. David Greenfeld, a 6th grader in Boston who attends "the King" middle school and is one of only a handful of white students. The course of the novel covers the school year, but mostly it is about friendships, family and adolescence. It was difficult to adjust to the slang and the voice of a teen boy, and if felt a little overdone in that voice. Overall, it's an interesting and well written book, but just wasn't really my 'thing'.

Even though this book has historical as well as current significance, it is very difficult to decipher the "lingo" at times to catch the full intent of the message. Too bad, as the books premise held great expectations.

I had high hopes for this book after the success of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, however Graham-Felsen's work fell far short for me. I was intrigued by the premise -- young white teen going to an almost all black middle school, not fitting in, being picked on and threatened regularly, and just can't seem to catch a break. There are some poignant plot points, however honestly I found the entire book difficult to follow. Way too many characters are introduced at once, there is far too much slang that ended up confusing me as a reader, and the language was too vulgar for a middle school title. Having a YA label wouldn't help -- my former MS students would be uncomfortable with this language and my current HS students probably wouldn't be interested in characters of MS age. I just didn't think this all worked together and the writing isn't composed enough for adults.

I couldn't get past the first chapter. I'm not sure what audience the author is targeting, but it's not well written enough for adults, and the language isn't the best for teens.

 


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