Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Date Read: March 23, 2016
Source: First to Read
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.
Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.
I liked this book but I didn't love it as I had hoped that I would. The focus of this book was really on the characters with the plot taking a lesser role. I thought the book was really slow at times and was fairly easy to set aside. However, the writing had a nice flow which I really enjoyed. Overall, I found this book to be a good read.
This book was very character driven. I think one of my main problems with the story is that I never connected with any of the characters. Sure, I liked East well enough but more in a acquaintance kind of way. Even after reading the whole book and spending all of those pages with East, I am still not sure that I really understand him. I felt even less of a connection to the rest of the group that go on the trip, Ty, Walter, and Micheal.
Before reading the story, I had expected a lot of action. A book about gang members going on a road trip to murder a witness sounds action packed - at least in my mind. There wasn't nearly as much action as I had expected with much of the story being spent in the van on the trip and trying to decide what they should do next. The second half of the book got a little more interesting for me when the group gets split up. At that point, the story becomes completely East's story with his life looking very different. It is apparent that East is thinking about taking a different path in his life.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a coming of age story that is a little different. I do think that most readers are going to enjoy this one a bit more than I did. This is the first book by Bill Beverly that I have had a chance to read. I enjoyed his writing style and would definitely read more of his work in the future.
I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.
About the Author
BILL BEVERLY grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and studied at Oberlin College and the University of Florida. His research on criminal fugitives and the stories surrounding them became the book On the Lam: Narratives of Flight in J. Edgar Hoover’s America. He teaches American literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington, DC.
Photo: © Olive Beverly