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[personal profile] gervase_fen
East looked quiet and kept quiet.   He didn’t look hard.  He didn’t look like much.  He blended in, didn’t talk much, was the skinniest of the bunch.  There wasn’t much to him.  He watched and listened to people.  What he heard, he remembered.

(Gold and New Blood, longlisted.) East, fifteen years old, runs a crew of younger boys who ‘stand yard’ on an L.A. crack house making sure the police and the clientele cause no trouble.  After a disastrous and deadly morning East is given a new mission – travel from L.A. to Wisconsin and assassinate a judge.

Bill Beverly’s debut is very impressive, getting inside East’s head as he travels across the highways and backroads in the company of three other teens – Michael Wilson, flash and confident, Walter, college-smart and dorky, and Ty, East’s feral half-brother, the ‘gunner’.  The road trip element is really well done – East has no frame of reference for the parts of America he’s visiting for first time.  The dynamics of the boys (especially the brotherly tension between East and Ty) is convincing.  I thought this stumbled a little bit in the final pages, but this, perhaps, is because I was genuinely surprised by some of the plausible narrative twists earlier on (there’s something a bit inevitable about what happens and who East meets at the end.)   Longlisted in two categories, and could well win one of them.

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