“Black and White” …and all shades of gray

My review of “Black and White” by Paul Volponi


These two best friends—Black and White (Marcus and Eddie) who are basketball studs live in the projects where prejudice and racism are prevalent. These guys are the leaders of their basketball team and are headed to play college ball then off to the pros. But since they are seniors, they have to pay dues. So they save up for months and each of them pays their $150 but they realize they are out of money. So they decide to do a few stickups with Eddie’s grandfather’s gun in order to get a little extra spending cash. They rob a lady first and get $92 but decide that it scares ladies too much so they won’t rob a lady again. Then they rob a man who is just getting into his car and then something goes horribly wrong. The gun in Eddie’s hand accidently goes off and the boys hurry and get out of the car and run for home. Each is scared to death that they murdered a man so they stay low for a while. The question burns in Black’s brain of how he knew that man they robbed. He knew him from somewhere but just couldn’t place him. Then it hit him…he was the driver of the 19A bus that ran right by his house.

In the next few days they played basketball just like normal but the weight of what they had done weighed on their shoulders. Then during the basketball game the police showed up and took Black to jail because he was recognized by the man they shot. The cops interrogated him but he did not give up Eddie’s name. The same night Black got taken to jail was the night Eddie signed to play at St. John’s. He was celebrating while his best friend was being put behind bars. In no way whatsoever was this fair.

But Eddie got what was coming to him, a few weeks later, on a Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. the detectives showed up at his door and arrested him too. His dad paid big money for a good lawyer who said he could get Eddie off all charges because only the woman they robbed recognized him for the crime. All this time though, Black was being treated different than White. Their friendship was diminishing quickly and the fact that Eddie’s family could hire a better lawyer and was white caused Black and all of the black basketball teammates to think it was racist.

Soon Eddie’s family and Marcus’s family can’t stand the sight of each other. Marcus had to plead guilty because he was out of avenues so he fesses up to the crime and was prepared to do his time. On the other hand, Eddie was so scared that Marcus would sell him out and he would get time behind bars. Marcus no longer felt that weight of keeping secrets, he was ashamed that he was part of that crime but handed in his basketball jersey and was dealing with life, head on. Eddie was a coward and still held on to the secret of what really happened that night. He also hired a great lawyer that could get him off his charges, or at least get them lessened because he had the money.

In the end, there was no more “Black and White” and the separation between races would cause friction between the families. The system of life is not fair and there may always be a struggle for race equality.

(Maybe it helps that I am a basketball fanatic and enjoy basketball lingo and the inter-workings of the game.)

I’m sorry, but I feel like this needs to be added: I understand that everyone is entitled to their opinion but I think there still needs to be a level of respect for the authors of the books that are assigned to us. As I have read other blogs about Black and White I see that it was not very well received by the class. However, I think that the negative comments rub off on others opinions who read those blogs. I think that everyone deserves respect and just because the author didn’t write this book how everyone else wanted him to, he portrayed racism through his own opinion and view.  Maybe I’m out of line here, but I enjoyed the book. Some of the things that happened you could see were coming but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t well written to portray certain aspects of racism. So, sorry if this offends anyone, stop reading if it does. But I feel that a certain level of professionalism and respect needs to be maintained when we analyze books that are assigned to us. 


3 thoughts on ““Black and White” …and all shades of gray

  1. I thought I would not like this book, but I actually ended up liking it. It goes to show that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. I also like basketball so that might be a reason why I liked it. I liked your perspective. Well thought out!

  2. And English teachers aren’t really the audience for this book either. Sometimes when we read, we have to put ourselves in the shoes of our students and read to connect with them, to find books they would enjoy that we can then book talk, to read books they’re excited about. And this is a book that doesn’t stay on the shelves in a high school classroom library, so it does work extremely well for its audience.

  3. I really like your views on respecting the authors. You are right that the negative comments do affect the way blog readers look at the book. If they go in negative minded they will be jaded from the beginning. Thank you for sharing!

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