My 42nd book of the year was Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead (New York: Doubleday, 2009)
Summary: "Fifteen-year-old Benji has spend every summer since he can remember in Sag Harbor, NY. The rest of the year, he's a black preppie from Manhattan, with a doctor father and a lawyer mother and a younger brother, Reggie. It is 1985, and Reggie gets a job at Burger King, leaving Benji (who would prefer to be called Ben) to hang with his summer friends (the term posse wasn't invented yet), other black prep school refugees. Not a lot happens during those three months. Or does everything happen, all that matters to an insecure, nerdy teen just beginning to realize the man he might become? Scooping ice cream at Jonni Waffle, riding to the 'white beach' with the one guy who's got a car, trying to crash a Lisa Lisa concert at the hip club, and kissing a girl and copping a feel are significant events in a life that encompasses generations of folks who call Sag Harbor home."
Opening lines: "First you had to settle the question of out. When did you get out? Asking this was showing off, even though anyone you could brag to had the same gift and had come by it the same way you did."
My take: Well-written and oh-so-perfectly evocative of both summer vacations and growing up in the 1980s. I'll have to agree with Donna Seaman's Booklist review, though: "Whitehead sticks to the frothy shoreline and avoids the deep." Funny and nicely detailed, but not very substantial.
- Ithaca, New York
- MWF, now officially 42, loves long walks on the beach and laughing with friends ... oh, wait. By day, I'm a mid-level university administrator reluctant to be more specific on a public forum. Nights and weekends, though, I'm a homebody with strong nerdist leanings. I'm never happier than when I'm chatting around the fire, playing board games, cooking up some pasta, and/or road-tripping with my family and friends. I studied psychology and then labor economics in school, and I work in higher education. From time to time I get smug, obsessive, or just plain boring about some combination of these topics, especially when inequality, parenting, or consumer culture are involved. You have been warned.