April 28, 2010

May 2010: Hold Love Strong

"Hold Love Strong" by Matthew Aaron Goodman

Goodman delivers a commanding investigation of love, family and freedom set in a New York City housing project. Abraham Singelton, born in 1982 to a 13-year-old mother, comes of age in the Ever Park projects, watching The Cosby Show and dreaming about a future in Brooklyn as a Huxtable. The generous narrative features a cast of deftly drawn characters: Lyndon Gaines, a former boxer turned community activist who courts Abraham's grandmother with a cage full of lovebirds; Lindbergh, a damaged Vietnam vet, now turning trash into elaborate models of helicopters; and cousin Donnel, whose one constant is the pledge, made at Abraham's birth, to hold love strong. A keen observer and deeply empathetic young man, Abraham grapples with the inescapable truths of his childhood yet understands the promise contained in education, love and personal expression. Though the narrative features its share of urban fiction tropes (crack-addicted mother, an uncle with NBA potential doomed by the allure of quick money, a series of senseless deaths), Goodman manages to pull together a vibrant canvas of project life, perfectly capturing the pain and magic of living despite narrow opportunities. --Publisher's Weekly

Mary: I think this guy's editor should've reeled him in a bit. He was long-winded and the story was a little predictable. I also didn't think the main character's voice would've been so flowery. Other than that, it was mostly enjoyable and easy and I did kind of want to know what happened so I would say it was a 3-star read.

I would not recommend this book, I felt like the ending was manipulative and contrived and that the author was trying to make the book something that it wasn't.

Aday: I had high hopes for this book based on previous reviews, but it just didn't do it for me.

Jen S.: Did not attempt. Though it doesn't sound like I missed anything great.

Holly: Jennifer said not to read it, so I didn't.

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