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In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first he In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home.    Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America.    Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.  


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In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first he In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home.    Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America.    Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.  

30 review for Everywhere You Don't Belong

  1. 5 out of 5

    Angela M

    I loved Claude McKay Love, the main character in this coming of age story of a young black man, growing up on the South side of Chicago. Claude, abandoned at 5 by his parents is raised by an unconventional, activist grandmother who loves him. He’s heartbroken and so was I. Claude cries a lot over being left by his parents, over the death of black teenager, dead in the street, killed by a cop while the boy was entering a home to feed the cats for the people on vacation. Must be stealing they said I loved Claude McKay Love, the main character in this coming of age story of a young black man, growing up on the South side of Chicago. Claude, abandoned at 5 by his parents is raised by an unconventional, activist grandmother who loves him. He’s heartbroken and so was I. Claude cries a lot over being left by his parents, over the death of black teenager, dead in the street, killed by a cop while the boy was entering a home to feed the cats for the people on vacation. Must be stealing they said. So relevant and reflective of the real life situations we see on the news with young black men and boys being killed or abused not because they are doing something wrong, but because of the racism that makes police believe they are doing something wrong. He cries over the riots that ensue and the gangs and more people killed. He cries when he leaves Chicago for college in Missouri and is working on a journalism project whose very assignment feels racist. Cries as he is looking back at Barack Obama’s election. He’s sad when everyone seems to be leaving him - his friends, Janice, the girl he loves . But Janet comes back bringing with her further times of fear and violence. In spite of all the tears and the violence, there are times when I couldn’t help but laugh. In spite of the tears and violence, there is so much love here. This is one of those books I didn’t want to end because I didn’t want to leave Claude, this determined, young man who keeps hopeful in spite of everything. A terrific debut by Gabriel Bump, who was born and raised on the South side of Chicago. I received an advanced copy of this book from Algonquin Books through NetGalley.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Chris Blocker

    I worry readers are going to be expecting something from this book that is very different from what they receive, and this will only drag down the rating. Everywhere You Don't Belong is definitely a book very much about the issues of social justice and racism, but it is very much written in a clever, darkly comic manner. This is a novel for fans of David Foster Wallace and Adam Levin, particularly the latter. The same kind of quirky characters with endearing nicknames you'd find in The Instructi I worry readers are going to be expecting something from this book that is very different from what they receive, and this will only drag down the rating. Everywhere You Don't Belong is definitely a book very much about the issues of social justice and racism, but it is very much written in a clever, darkly comic manner. This is a novel for fans of David Foster Wallace and Adam Levin, particularly the latter. The same kind of quirky characters with endearing nicknames you'd find in The Instructions are here. The build up to a battle to end all battles (Infinite Jest's tennis war or The Instructions' Armageddon) is also here, but the payoff isn't quite as epic as either of those provided. Although I have a love-hate relationship with Infinite Jest, I thoroughly enjoyed The Instructions and I do think Everywhere You Don't Belong is an excellent companion piece. Given the length of Everywhere You Don't Belong (a fourth of the aforementioned tomes) and the popularity of the subject matter, I do think this book will fall into the hands of many readers who are unfamiliar with postmodernism. They may be looking for an entirely believable story, and when what they get isn't realism, nor is it something they can equate with an established genre, I think they may be too quick to dismiss it. But look at me, spending all my time talking about what other readers are potentially going to do... Here's what I think of this novel: I enjoyed much of this book. The opening chapters where we're introduced to Claude's life and his friends is stellar. I wish I'd been able to spend more time with Nugget, Bubbly, and Jonah. The conversations that happened between Claude's grandmother and her friend Paul were so outlandishly entertaining. Many of these chapters felt more like short stories from the life of Claude, giving the reader an idea of different aspects of his life rather than a joined narrative. Eventually, the narrative becomes more cohesive. For me, the concluding chapters didn't carry the same heft as the first half of the book, but I was still pleased with them. There's just a sharpness to the wit and language of the first half that I think was missing in the end. Everywhere You Don't Belong comes out in February 2020. And if I haven't made it clear yet, I recommend this novel for fans of Adam Levin.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Larry H

    Poignant and so timely, Everywhere You Don't Belong , Gabriel Bump's debut novel, packs a powerful punch. Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Claude McKay Love has seen a lot of things. Raised by his Civil Rights-era activist grandmother and her best friend, they try to make him believe he can achieve greatness. But Claude has mostly seen mediocrity and abandonment, and he doesn’t believe that greatness is routinely accessible by young Black men. But as his community is rocked by violence and c Poignant and so timely, Everywhere You Don't Belong , Gabriel Bump's debut novel, packs a powerful punch. Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Claude McKay Love has seen a lot of things. Raised by his Civil Rights-era activist grandmother and her best friend, they try to make him believe he can achieve greatness. But Claude has mostly seen mediocrity and abandonment, and he doesn’t believe that greatness is routinely accessible by young Black men. But as his community is rocked by violence and caught in a tug-of-war between those wanting to change things and those who want power of their own, Claude realizes he wants more. He wants simple—love, success, safety, a feeling of belonging—but believes to achieve that he must do what has been done to him—leave. Yet Claude quickly realizes that even a change of location doesn’t change the situation for him. To get what he wants may take everything he has—and may be dangerous—but he can’t let life pass him by or it will swallow him up. What a tremendously thought-provoking book this was! At turns funny, sad, shocking, hopeful, and insightful, Bump takes you on a roller-coaster ride that seems exaggerated in places but is all too real for some. I’ll definitely be thinking about this one for a while. There’s some violence in the book, which may be a trigger for some, but it’s not gratuitous. It may sound like an intense read, and it has its moments, but all in all, it's just a really good book. I was glad to be part of the blog tour celebrating the paperback release of Everywhere You Don't Belong . My thanks to Algonquin Books and NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!! Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html. Check out my list of the best books of the last decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html. See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com. Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)

    Claude Mckay Love grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother after his parents abandoned him at a young age. She is a great influence in his life and pushes him to continue his education while avoiding the drug and gang violence from their neighborhood. After a violent riot, Claude is haunted by the event and sets his sights on leaving Chicago. The home and city that he knew have been altered and he is tired of the injustices. He yearns for a place to fit in and event Claude Mckay Love grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother after his parents abandoned him at a young age. She is a great influence in his life and pushes him to continue his education while avoiding the drug and gang violence from their neighborhood. After a violent riot, Claude is haunted by the event and sets his sights on leaving Chicago. The home and city that he knew have been altered and he is tired of the injustices. He yearns for a place to fit in and eventually leaves for Missouri to attend college and study journalism. Unfortunately, Claude’s escape away from the streets of Chicago reemerge and he is forced to confront the same challenges from his youth. Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a debut novel by Gabriel Bump. This book is original and clever with a mix of grit and humor. This is an author to watch in the future.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    In case you missed it this list . . . . Has been pretty good for me. I didn’t request allllllll of the books, but anything that perked my ears up in interest definitely got put on hold at my local library and I’ve been reading them pretty much as soon as my turn comes up. Everywhere You Don’t Belong was presented as a coming of age story set in the South Side of Chicago told by a young, male, black protagonist and . . . . . Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this much at all. There were brief In case you missed it this list . . . . Has been pretty good for me. I didn’t request allllllll of the books, but anything that perked my ears up in interest definitely got put on hold at my local library and I’ve been reading them pretty much as soon as my turn comes up. Everywhere You Don’t Belong was presented as a coming of age story set in the South Side of Chicago told by a young, male, black protagonist and . . . . . Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this much at all. There were brief moments of levity in this tale as the blurb promised, but the writing style was definitely not my idea of a good time. Dialogue heavy with little to no punctuation, cardboard cutout characters with no depth and a schizophrenic attempt at covering everything without really committing to diving deeper into anything of any importance made for a not great time. Another reviewer said this must be what it feels like to have a stroke and that made me chuckle because uhhhhhh yeah. The closest comparison I can make with regard to the delivery and approach to this was the oh-so-godawful Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. At least this one earned more than 1 Star from me! (Please don’t troll me and tell me I’m a wrongreader – I like what I like and I’m sure many others will voice the same complaints I am.) Not to mention at this point in the suckage that has been both the first year of the Roaring 20s as well as the first few weeks of this new year I really wasn’t in the mood for such a reiteration of the current state of America. Reminders of racial injustices or books that seem very “present” (for lack of a better term) are one thing, but when a snippet featuring a group of Proud Boy types came into the picture mere days after our Capitol was raided, well that had me saying . . . . I was looking for a bit of an escape (hence the being interested in reading a coming-of-age story with a darkly humorous lean to it). If you are of a more sensitive nature than myself, you may find that you want to take cover in a bunker or something after reliving our reality via this fiction.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Quann

    I tossed out Everywhere You Don't Belong as an option to our book club and got quite a few bites. We wanted to read something that spoke to the times and, specifically, to the Black Lives Matter movement. This stacked up nicely alongside my recent reading trajectory which has included a powerful indigenous memoir, an incredible multigenerational African novel, and a 1970s short story collection about race. By comparison, Everywhere You Don't Belong feels a bit more youthful and drops in some sur I tossed out Everywhere You Don't Belong as an option to our book club and got quite a few bites. We wanted to read something that spoke to the times and, specifically, to the Black Lives Matter movement. This stacked up nicely alongside my recent reading trajectory which has included a powerful indigenous memoir, an incredible multigenerational African novel, and a 1970s short story collection about race. By comparison, Everywhere You Don't Belong feels a bit more youthful and drops in some surprising bursts of humour. Normally, it takes about a month for everyone to get through a novel, but members were tearing through Gabriel Bump's debut in a matter of days. Now that I've read the book, I can see why! Narrated by lost-in-the-world South Side Chicago youth, Claude, Everywhere You Don't Belong thrives on short chapters, dialogue-heavy passages, and a fast-moving timeline. The book's main cast--Claude, Janice, Grandma, and Paul--all shine with easily distinguishable voice, but it's to Bump's credit that all of the supporting cast and bit players stand out. Whether it's an artist working as a restauranteur or a drunk girl at a high school party, Bump's character beats are punchy and memorable. Though the book does a lot of thematic heavy lifting, it's readability and humour keep it from being a nonstop parade of tragedy. As Claude struggles to find his place in a world where his race makes him feel disposable, it is the moments of levity that help propel the reader forward. No doubt about it, Claude and Janice's differing paths on the way out of Chicago ask complex and difficult questions of the reader, but boy does Bump do it in readable style. I was pretty impressed with this short novel! As much as these things fall into artificial categories, it's likely a bit YA-ish. There's a teen/young adult romance, but I thought it was elevated by its atypical course. I'm very excited to see what my book club made of it and I'll keep my eyes peeled for whatever Bump writes next.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Oakes

    full post here: https://www.readingavidly.com/2020/02... First, a huge thanks to Algonquin, who sent me an advanced reader copy. When I began reading this novel, I was sort of taken aback at the simplicity of it all and I was a bit on the iffy side, but the truth is that the further I got into it the more I realized that it's not simple at all -- it is intelligent and works at a level of complexity I hadn't anticipated. Just briefly, I suppose this book is what most people are calling it, a coming full post here: https://www.readingavidly.com/2020/02... First, a huge thanks to Algonquin, who sent me an advanced reader copy. When I began reading this novel, I was sort of taken aback at the simplicity of it all and I was a bit on the iffy side, but the truth is that the further I got into it the more I realized that it's not simple at all -- it is intelligent and works at a level of complexity I hadn't anticipated. Just briefly, I suppose this book is what most people are calling it, a coming-of-age story, following Claude McKay Love beginning with childhood growing up in an African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. His life is a series of people leaving, with his parents taking off first, followed here and there by his friends. The only solid thing in Claude's life is his grandmother, who along with her live-in friend Paul brings him up as best as she can, which isn't always easy. What makes this somewhat atypical of a standard coming-of-age tale is in the way the author also examines different forms of oppression, racism and ideology that find their way into Claude's life, as well as how he copes with it all. Do not let the simplicity of the prose or the style fool you. And think out of the box when you get to the end, which seems both simplistic and unrealistic, but the author is making a point here. While there are a number of funny moments where I couldn't help but laugh, Everywhere You Don't Belong is a serious novel telling a serious story that needs to be heard and asking questions that need to be asked. Very highly recommended, and Mr. Bump should be congratulated for a first novel very well done. If anyone in the US would like my copy of this paperback arc (I don't keep them, preferring to share), please pm me and I'll be happy to give it to you.

  8. 4 out of 5

    jo

    I was grateful to receive an ARC copy of this. It’s such a good book! The first half is lyrical and fragmented in a beautiful, strong, and original way. It centers on a child living with his family in South Side Chicago (yes, that’s Obama-land!) and is a mixture of Black coming-of-age and reflection on racial injustice. There is a riot, the repercussion of which will be felt throughout the book, and it’s a beautifully and heartrendingly described riot — pain and injustice palpable and searing. T I was grateful to receive an ARC copy of this. It’s such a good book! The first half is lyrical and fragmented in a beautiful, strong, and original way. It centers on a child living with his family in South Side Chicago (yes, that’s Obama-land!) and is a mixture of Black coming-of-age and reflection on racial injustice. There is a riot, the repercussion of which will be felt throughout the book, and it’s a beautifully and heartrendingly described riot — pain and injustice palpable and searing. The child’s family is unorthodox and also solid and loving and quirky and funny. In the second half Claude, the protagonist, manages to get away and go to University, where the trauma of his insecure and violent childhood inevitably follows him. The adventures of Claude in Wisconsin are both funny and terrifying. The novel turns more traditional, a love story becomes part of it, and the rhythm accelerates. Maybe this part is not as magical and surprising as the first, but this is a debut novel and, heck, it is pretty damn good. I am a White immigrant to the United States and I will never understand the Black experience, but I will never stop trying, bc understanding others (and in the process, ourselves) is what we must do. This book did something to me. It is not exactly written *for* me, but what I got from it is a deeper understanding of the fragility of Black life in America, and also of the brilliance and joy of Black life in America. When it comes to American Black life there is something that’s very much akin to orientalism. We all want to be a little bit Black. I haven’t given much thought to why marginalized cultures are so profoundly appealing to those who belong in the mainstream, and to why this attraction can be simultaneously infused with the deepest, most heinous racism, but it’s definitely a thing. I think we should fight it. At the same time, though, we are given the amazing opportunity to enjoy art that is produced in the immensely fruitful place that is the margins, and I think we should consume it as much as possible. .

  9. 4 out of 5

    Truman32

    In many ways a good book is like a well-executed kidnapping. They both sweep you up before you even know what is happening. They club you over the head with a tube sock full of quarters and suddenly you are unable to get away. Soon a hanky with suspicious stains and reeking of Chloroform is jammed into your mouth and you find yourself transported to a place you have never been before. A place that is enthralling and all encompassing. And that is it, you have been taken. Gabriel Bump’s novel Ever In many ways a good book is like a well-executed kidnapping. They both sweep you up before you even know what is happening. They club you over the head with a tube sock full of quarters and suddenly you are unable to get away. Soon a hanky with suspicious stains and reeking of Chloroform is jammed into your mouth and you find yourself transported to a place you have never been before. A place that is enthralling and all encompassing. And that is it, you have been taken. Gabriel Bump’s novel Everywhere You Don’t Belong abducts the reader to the South Shore of Chicago. As everyone knows, the South side of Chicago is the baddest part of town and if you go down there you better just beware. Claude McKay Love has lived a tough life. Though his family provides love and support they are weird and unconventional. His mother and father abandoned him at an early age leaving his upbringing to grandma and her tenant/friend. His neighborhood is riddled in crime. He doesn’t fit in with his peers at school and as a young African American man he struggles to find a sense of belonging (particularly in an America that seems to dismiss him based only on his skin color). This is pretty heady stuff, but Bump writes in a sardonic and gallows type of humor that anyone whose name is Bump has no doubt developed over many years of schoolyard wedgies and dripping wet willies. The humor is evocative of Joseph Heller – bleak but funny. Everywhere You Don’t Belong shines a spotlight on experiences that are often underrepresented in our society. The book has enough narrative drive to make the story interesting and is not a novel that preaches its message so loudly it sacrifices the story. And while the places it takes you can be rough and heartbreaking (and this too is like a kidnapping, after all who wants to be thrown in a basement chained to a busted washing machine and forced to pee into a bucket until your family can gather the $1500 ransom) it is a trip that is eye-opening.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Amy Imogene Reads

    Ever read a book with such hypnotic writing that you lose all sense of place and time? Welcome to the words of Everywhere You Don't Belong. Writing: ★★★★★ Characters: ★★★★ Plot/Pacing: ★★★★ Claude McKay Love is just trying to live and thrive in life. Born and raised as a Black man on the South Side of Chicago, Claude's lot is already complex and complicated. It's made even more so with the introduction of riots around his home and the situation of his area. His grandmother, a product of the civil r Ever read a book with such hypnotic writing that you lose all sense of place and time? Welcome to the words of Everywhere You Don't Belong. Writing: ★★★★★ Characters: ★★★★ Plot/Pacing: ★★★★ Claude McKay Love is just trying to live and thrive in life. Born and raised as a Black man on the South Side of Chicago, Claude's lot is already complex and complicated. It's made even more so with the introduction of riots around his home and the situation of his area. His grandmother, a product of the civil rights era, pushes Claude toward change, and his family members, neighbors, and others in his community push to make him act one way or the other. But Claude is just trying to live. As we stride hand-in-hand with Claude through his childhood years and into adulthood, we have a front-row seat to his struggles to identify as a member of the Black community while also hesitant to put himself out there. He tries to leave his past and place in society behind him by leaving the South Side, attending college, and reinventing himself... but that only works well for a hot second, because as the saying goes, "you take yourself with you, wherever you go" and it's hard to outrun the fact that he's Black in America today. And at the end of the day, does Claude even want to outrun himself? With poignancy, pain, violence, and heartbreak, Everywhere You Don't Belong sounds like the opposite of a funny, heartwarming read. And yet author Gabriel Bump manages to make you laugh and smile along with Claude. It's in the writing. Bump has done something special with this debut... it sings. I strongly encourage all to read this not only for the poignant commentary but also for its shining example of endurance and light. A powerful book, and an author with writing to watch. Thank you to Algonquin Books for my copy in exchange for an honest review. Blog | Instagram

  11. 5 out of 5

    Matthew

    A long, long time ago (2001-02), in a galaxy far, far away (suburban Detroit), yours truly worked in his family’s restaurant amidst a select group of miscreants whose petty shenanigans were as eye-opening as they were unrelatable. It’s not as though I hadn’t been privy to trouble and those who make it. I had just never before associated with people who seem to feed, if not thrive, off of it. Case in point: Christine, a bartender and mother of 4, whose credit score was lower than I thought imagin A long, long time ago (2001-02), in a galaxy far, far away (suburban Detroit), yours truly worked in his family’s restaurant amidst a select group of miscreants whose petty shenanigans were as eye-opening as they were unrelatable. It’s not as though I hadn’t been privy to trouble and those who make it. I had just never before associated with people who seem to feed, if not thrive, off of it. Case in point: Christine, a bartender and mother of 4, whose credit score was lower than I thought imaginable (if memory serves correct it was in the 400s). For as much bitching she would do about bill collectors “harassing” her, she still continued purchasing anything and everything her kids – and her deadbeat, unemployed husband – requested, all the while missing mortgage payments left and right. I shan’t even get into her opioid dependency. Long story short, Christine and her family had their house repossessed by the bank. I’m not so heartless to which I didn’t feel sympathetic, however that soon went out the window once I heard Christine’s hair-brained solution to all of her problems: to simply run away from them. “We’ll move up north. We can get a lot more house for a lot cheaper up there.” she asserted. “But what about the bills you owe? Your credit score?” I countered. “Ain’t our problem. They took my house!” Where Christine is nowadays is beyond me. Maybe – hopefully – she wizened up, started prioritizing better and taking responsibility for her actions. Either way, she dug her own grave and would have to dig herself out of it – even if said digging is with a shovel likely provided by debt collectors. Moral of the story: you can’t run away from your problems. That being said, some problems aren’t so cut and dry. Take Claude, the protagonist of Gabriel Bump’s debut, Everywhere You Don’t Belong, for instance. Like Christine, he chooses to get the fuck out of dodge with hopes the troubles he experienced as a child would stay behind. Unlike Christine, however, his “problems” – where he was born and raised (south shore of Chicago), the color of his skin (black) – were completely out of his control. These aren’t the extent of Claude’s issues, though. We learn early on about his upbringing, the shit hand he’s been dealt, his struggle to, fittingly, find a place where he feels as though he belongs. Abandoned by ne'er-do-well parents and raised by his grandmother, Claude is an outlier – introverted, studious, awkward – amongst the gang-bangers that predominantly make up his neighborhood. Thankfully Claude finds solace in his spitfire of a grandma, an eccentric family friend (Paul) and his fellow outcast/crush, Janice. And yet even they are not enough to counteract the drugs, gangs and criminal activities that riddle their neighborhood. When a young (and innocent) south shore boy is wrongly killed by police, an intense riot ensues, leaving Claude at a crossroads: does he side with his neighborhood despite its proclivity for violence, or side with the authorities that killed one of their own? This prompts Claude’s flight elsewhere, and sets up the back half of Everywhere You Don’t Belong. Accepted into University of Missouri’s prestigious journalism program, he hopes to establish an identity of his own. And while he’s able to forge the semblance of a path, the troubles Claude had hoped to escape prove inescapable; he is a black man living in an America where racism is not just alive, it may never die. Everywhere You Don’t Belong is neither perfect nor ground-breakingly original. But where it shines is through the sharp, insightful, sardonic tone Gabriel Bump establishes throughout. The banter betwixt characters, in concert with Bump’s enthrallingly vivid descriptions of Chicago’s urban landscape, make for a fulfilling reading experience. It’s funny, quirky, ironic, heartbreaking. It’s a mirror of modern society, and what makes this country both great and terrifying. Moreover, Everywhere You Don’t Belong is proof positive some problems are unavoidable unless real change can occur. Whether or not it can is simply up to us.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing up as a young black man trying to escape the South Side after the riots. Claude eventually moves to Missouri for college and no matter his escape, he finds himself dealing with the same issues - complete irony for a black man living the life in twenty-first-century America. I found this book to be well written and an anthem for our youth, and for anyone feeling the need to belong, or had ever experienced a sense of alienation and abandonment. This is a book that will feel like a friend that just completely understands and laughs along side you. Well done! I highly recommend.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    A young man comes of age in a tough Chicago neighborhood while dealing with abandonment by his parents and a drive to get away. Strong characters and light comic touches make it a lively read, and a plot line involving protests over a black man’s death at the hands of police make this debut novel very timely.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tzipora

    I really don’t know how to rate this book. It wasn’t quite what I expected and like many others, I was really enjoying it until the second half or last third. When Claude ends up in Missouri everything seems to kind of take a pointless or at least severely underdeveloped turn. But I adored the parts that take place in South Shore, Chicago. I really appreciated the race based musings and discussions, the struggles of growing up in a rough neighborhood but just trying to get along, stay out of tro I really don’t know how to rate this book. It wasn’t quite what I expected and like many others, I was really enjoying it until the second half or last third. When Claude ends up in Missouri everything seems to kind of take a pointless or at least severely underdeveloped turn. But I adored the parts that take place in South Shore, Chicago. I really appreciated the race based musings and discussions, the struggles of growing up in a rough neighborhood but just trying to get along, stay out of trouble, do the best you can in shit circumstances. I’m just another white girl reading this book and while I live in Chicago I can’t say I’m very familiar with where this book takes place. But I have lived in rough neighborhoods in Michigan not so different, been the only white girl at a queer youth shelter in Highland Park Detroit, spent weeks in my teens at another youth shelter in a smaller but similarly racially divided and troubled city. I can’t know what it’s like to be a young black boy but I know the neighborhoods, the poverty, the people to some extent. I know what it’s like to never really belong in my own way (too poor for the local Jewish community, too queer for the poorer Jews, too sick all around, too Jewish in disabled spaces, etc...). And I think there’s a lot of people who will see themselves or neighborhoods they’ve known in this book, people who have maybe never seen themselves in books before. It’s a wildly different view of South Shore than what you’ll hear from Michelle Obama but also very different than what you hear on the news. That reality, is what makes this book special. I saw places I’ve lived and never seen in books before, remembered them surprisingly fondly perhaps, because even in troubled places there’s more good, honest, people just trying to get by then there is bad. Claude felt like someone I went to high school with. Then he goes off to Missouri and I understood it, I guess. Though it’s interesting that it was never addressed how he afforded it. Or even fully why Missouri. We saw other characters struggling with wanting Claude to get away and be someone but wanting him to stay but I wish we had gotten deeper into Claude’s own thoughts. It felt like one day his mind was made up. Missouri. No idea if he ever considered anywhere else. And when he gets there new characters are introduced but then dropped and the book lost a lot of what made it so special in the end, and so relatable. My ecopy was due back to the library today so unfortunately I don’t really have more time to flip through this one but it’s definitely a book I’m going to sit with and think about. I had to read other reviews to even begin to decide how to rate it. I’m still not sure what I think. But I sure loved the first 60% or so.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ms YaYa

    * Before reading this review please know that although kept vague, I will be disclosing what DOES NOT happen. If this still SPOILS the story for you. Do not read any further 🙏🏾 Claude was a fascinating character, with intriguing circumstances and experiences. Claude’s “love interest”, Janice, and unusual immediate family members were just as fascinating. In fact, what I enjoyed most were the more recent Black culture and Black history references made, as well as the colloquial leaps in time used * Before reading this review please know that although kept vague, I will be disclosing what DOES NOT happen. If this still SPOILS the story for you. Do not read any further 🙏🏾 Claude was a fascinating character, with intriguing circumstances and experiences. Claude’s “love interest”, Janice, and unusual immediate family members were just as fascinating. In fact, what I enjoyed most were the more recent Black culture and Black history references made, as well as the colloquial leaps in time used to describe scenes and states of mind for an atypical, yet familiar, cast of characters. I loved where this book was going; the anticipation of the book was exciting. It was refreshing to have a deeper perspective of Chicago during that time via this story. I was totally on board for this literary ride...I could not put it down. Then, about two-thirds in, the story took this weird turn that abruptly ended the journey. [I was lost and “should’ve made the left at Albuquerque” ~ Bugs Bunny 😁] I was completely confused about what was happening and why. There were new characters introduced and connections to the story that were pivotal to Claude’s “new beginning”. However, they were never really developed. I just could not grasp the impact these characters would have on Claude’s future decision-making and was left with a lot of questions. Maybe that was the point 🤔 Maybe it descended just like it should have. Overall, as mentioned before, I admire the author’s writing style. I also appreciate the story I believe he was trying to tell but was not able to execute seamlessly as anticipated. It is still worth the read. I am curious as to what others think about it.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?

    Claude is your typical high school kid, trying to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life. He lives on the South Side of Chicago, where life is not always the greatest. Surviving his parents leaving him, rioting and violence in his hometown. When he meets Janice, he think he may have found the one person to make the journey a little better, but Janice has plans of her own that may or may not include Claude. Together or apart, will Claude be able to make it through this tumultu Claude is your typical high school kid, trying to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life. He lives on the South Side of Chicago, where life is not always the greatest. Surviving his parents leaving him, rioting and violence in his hometown. When he meets Janice, he think he may have found the one person to make the journey a little better, but Janice has plans of her own that may or may not include Claude. Together or apart, will Claude be able to make it through this tumultuous life, or will he fall victim to his circumstances. Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read and review this book. I can say that I was hooked on this book from the start. Claude seems like a shy guy who doesn't have too many friends. Not that he doesn't want friends, but he just likes to stick to himself. At first while reading the book, I was a little concerned about the writing style. But it fits for a boy of that age who is unsure of himself. This book was a quick read with a lot of dry humor. You don't hear as many reports about the violence in Chicago, but it is ever prevalent. Thankfully, I have never felt the fear of violence just from sitting on my porch, but Claude feels it and even though he tries to escape it, it seems to follow him. I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend for high school boys who are unsure of their future.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Poonam

    Frenetic and propulsive, EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG is a fantastic debut from Gabrielle Bump. And a book I absolutely loved. I gravitated towards this book for two reasons. One, it’s billed as a dark comedy. Two, it’s set in Chicago. So I wanted to see what story Bump would cook up, and why reviewers were saying this book isn’t what you’d expect. This coming-of-age novel follows Claude McKay Love from age 5, when his parents leave him with his grandmother, through his first year of college. An av Frenetic and propulsive, EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG is a fantastic debut from Gabrielle Bump. And a book I absolutely loved. I gravitated towards this book for two reasons. One, it’s billed as a dark comedy. Two, it’s set in Chicago. So I wanted to see what story Bump would cook up, and why reviewers were saying this book isn’t what you’d expect. This coming-of-age novel follows Claude McKay Love from age 5, when his parents leave him with his grandmother, through his first year of college. An average kid growing up in Chicago’s South Shore, abandonment, violence, first loves and peer pressure consume his life. I absolutely loved the dark deadpan humor to tell a heartbreaking coming-of-age story. It’s a really smart way to take traumatic themes and turn it into a page turner that doesn’t sink you deep into those heavy moments. Yet still gives space to contemplate how heavy life can be a Black boy. And the way Bump slips social commentary in throughout the book is so fun. This book feels like a cross between Tommy Orange’s THERE THERE (pacing, plot-driven) and The Last Black Man in San Francisco (imaginative storytelling). And on a personal note, I loved the Chicago/midwest setting. It’s fun reading Chicago stories and this book is SO midwest, lol. Highly recommend.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Estee

    I am not sure whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars so I will round up for now. I don’t really know how to describe this book except that it is different and wild and I liked it. It feels futuristic but it’s set in present day. It feels old and new at the same time. Claude, the main character, is both sensitive and brave, smart and not so smart. He is a smart teenager who makes some good choices and some bad choices. The first half of the book reads like short stories. And while the second ha I am not sure whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars so I will round up for now. I don’t really know how to describe this book except that it is different and wild and I liked it. It feels futuristic but it’s set in present day. It feels old and new at the same time. Claude, the main character, is both sensitive and brave, smart and not so smart. He is a smart teenager who makes some good choices and some bad choices. The first half of the book reads like short stories. And while the second half of the book is unbelievable, Claude is believable and so you read and root for him. This was an interesting book that is very timely but with a very different tone. I think people will enjoy it. Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book

  19. 4 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing up as a young black man trying to escape the South Side after the riots. Claude eventually moves to Missouri for college and no matter his escape, he finds himself dealing with the same issues - complete irony for a black man living the life in twenty-first-century America. I found this book to be well written and an anthem for our youth, and for anyone feeling the need to belong, or had ever experienced a sense of alienation and abandonment. This is a book that will feel like a friend that just completely understands and laughs along side you. Well done! I highly recommend. Thank you Algonquin for the advanced and gifted copy - all thoughts are my own.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Claude McKay Love is a black teenager growing up on the south side of Chicago. His parents abandoned him early on and he has been raised by his fiery, activist grandmother. Claude is an emotional kid and is disheartened by the things he sees around him- his friends being gunned down by gangs or the police, riots against injustices and the bleak future that face most of the kids in his neighborhood. He decides to flee the city and enrolls in college in Iowa, aiming to become a journalist. He soon Claude McKay Love is a black teenager growing up on the south side of Chicago. His parents abandoned him early on and he has been raised by his fiery, activist grandmother. Claude is an emotional kid and is disheartened by the things he sees around him- his friends being gunned down by gangs or the police, riots against injustices and the bleak future that face most of the kids in his neighborhood. He decides to flee the city and enrolls in college in Iowa, aiming to become a journalist. He soon finds out that there is no safe oasis for a young black man. This is an impressive debut. There is a gritty edge to his writing style, but also an equally dark wit. And Claude was a terrific character to spend a couple of a hundred pages with.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kristy

    This was a frustrating book. It is billed as witty, profound and even comical. There is absolutely nothing funny in this book. The protagonist is sad, lost and often pathetic while navigating violent, terrifying and tragic events. The supporting characters are broken and useless, his family members nearly so dysfunctional that they are abusive. This book highlights systematic racism, rage, terror and police brutality. But the bewildered protagonist leaves readers frustrated and unsatisfied. He n This was a frustrating book. It is billed as witty, profound and even comical. There is absolutely nothing funny in this book. The protagonist is sad, lost and often pathetic while navigating violent, terrifying and tragic events. The supporting characters are broken and useless, his family members nearly so dysfunctional that they are abusive. This book highlights systematic racism, rage, terror and police brutality. But the bewildered protagonist leaves readers frustrated and unsatisfied. He never finds his place or how to make any sort of difference.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bryn Lerud

    A novel about a Chicago family and about hatred amongst groups of people in Chicago. It was depressing.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Greg Zimmerman

    4.5 First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c... My experience growing up was quite literally the exact opposite of that of the character Claude in Gabriel Bump's funny, sharp, and tragic debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong. I grew up in a pleasant small town in Ohio with a supportive family and no real problems. Still, I moved to a big city the first chance I got. Conversely, Claude's parents abandon him when he's young and he's raised by his grandmother in the at-times rough S 4.5 First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c... My experience growing up was quite literally the exact opposite of that of the character Claude in Gabriel Bump's funny, sharp, and tragic debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong. I grew up in a pleasant small town in Ohio with a supportive family and no real problems. Still, I moved to a big city the first chance I got. Conversely, Claude's parents abandon him when he's young and he's raised by his grandmother in the at-times rough South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. He moves to a small college town (Columbia, Missouri) the first chance he gets. (Bump also grew up in South Shore, a neighborhood probably most famous as Michelle Obama's home, as well.) So it's a tribute to Bump (and maybe more than a little presumptuous on my part to say) how relatable Claude felt. He's an introvert. He's awkward around girls specifically, but people generally. He likes to read. And he wants to be a journalist. Everywhere You Don't Belong is the story of Claude's coming-of-age as a boy and teenager in South Shore, surviving a horrific race riot after the police kill a black man, crushing on his long-time family friend Janice who is beautiful but gets in some trouble, and finally realizing he needs to leave Chicago and matriculates to the University of Missouri. Bump packs a lot into this deceptively simple, fast-paced story. It's about racism. There's a bit of an unconventional first-love story. There is a careful consideration of mental health in the African American community. There are jocks and nerds. An old possibly alcoholic gay man named Paul who keeps hilariously trying to avenge perceived slights. Drugs. Gangs. More. But possibly the biggest strength of this slim but powerful novel is its voice. It's alternately funny and dead serious, but with a subtlety that really requires you to pay attention to catch both the profundity, and also the humor. Here's an exchange between teenaged Claude and his crush Janice that illustrates this: "Your grandma came to my house yesterday," Janice said. "She's going around the neighborhood," I said. "She's a little wild," Janice said. "I'm sorry," I said. "She's worried about the future." "I like it," Janice said. "She screamed a little." "I'm sorry," I said again. "They want to organize a march," Janice said. "I'm sorry," I said. "They want to take back the streets," Janice said. There's so much to unpack here — it's funny, it's sad, it's a little cringe-worthy. Poor Claude is so awkward! But this is representative of many of the quick-fire snippets of dialogue throughout the novel I really loved. Bump is getting the "arrival of a brilliant young talent" blurb treatment, a sentiment which is somewhat overused, but in this case perfectly apt. This is one Chicago writer for whom I can't wait to see what's next. I pealed through this book so quickly, I'm desperate for more of this voice! This book is highly recommended both as a terrific reading experience, and also to get in on the ground floor of a writer from whom you'll no doubt be hearing lots more.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rosa

    This novel refuses to let you pin it down to any one tone or plot point, but it doesn't matter because the sheer poetry of the writing, as well as the (sometimes-gallows) humor, is strong enough to carry the reader along. I was actually put in mind of Donald Glover's "Atlanta" - the setting is obviously different, but both richly convey myriad truths about what it's like to be black in America through absurdist humor, unpredictable plot lines/tone, and a deep sense of place. Unfortunately, someth This novel refuses to let you pin it down to any one tone or plot point, but it doesn't matter because the sheer poetry of the writing, as well as the (sometimes-gallows) humor, is strong enough to carry the reader along. I was actually put in mind of Donald Glover's "Atlanta" - the setting is obviously different, but both richly convey myriad truths about what it's like to be black in America through absurdist humor, unpredictable plot lines/tone, and a deep sense of place. Unfortunately, something about the last part of this novel (which some readers are referring to as a "surreal turn") didn't work for me. What grounds the "anything can happen" nature of this book is how vividly Claude's inner workings are rendered - Claude never quite "fits" regardless of where he is, but no matter how much Claude is an outsider, he always seems to know who he is, and is able to communicate that essence to us - Bump's agility and grace in balancing these elements are the heart of this story. Sadly, style and plot trample over some of this magic in the closing parts, almost like Bump was trying to jack things up to a Get Out level of surrealism (via Tarantino plot mechanics), but it doesn't quite pan out. Nevertheless, the parts of the book that I loved (most of it) make this a very worthwhile read. 2 notes - at some point I noticed that the characters are usually? never? referred to by race; I've seen a few white writers do this in a few recent books (write around the ethnicity of a not-white character, rather than just label it), but not a POC writer. Bump's doing this pulls you further into Claude's world, making you more reliant on what Claude chooses to share with you, in order to get your bearings... it also highlights the point that we don't usually notice we're different. It's always someone or something else that instills that sense of "difference" into us. When race/ethnicity is explicitly noted in this novel, it's typically after a point of conflict (such as being one of two black writers in the room, who are subsequently both singled out and asked to write about diversity, or such as being harassed for being immigrants by Islamophobic white locals). Second, it's highly amusing that Gabriel Bump keeps explaining in all interviews (and even in the plot summary here) that Claude is defined by how "ordinary" he is. While I understand and completely agree that there's a need to write about POC characters Not because they might be the next Michael Jordan/Malala/YoYo Ma, that we should want to read about Claude McKay simply because he's a human being, there's nothing "ordinary" about a kid who goes into a room and notices everything about everyone else inside of 30 seconds, and is able to render his impressions with such devastating detail: "I sat next to my roommate, Kenneth. He smelled like dust. Pimple scars ran from his ears down to his chin. He had short, sharp hair like broken spaghetti." Yikes - I'm sitting far away from that guy, before he tells me about myself.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Deedi Brown (DeediReads)

    All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: Everywhere You Don’t Belong was a moving, fast-paced, poignant coming-of-age story about a young Black man from Chicago. For you if: You are looking for a strong #OwnVoices example of commercial literary fiction. FULL REVIEW: “And they’ve said, ‘Martin Luther King was a puppet.’ And these people who’ve said Martin Luther King was a puppet have also said, ‘Brother Malcolm got it right: any means necessary.’ And both those broth All my reviews live at https://deedispeaking.com/reads/. TL;DR REVIEW: Everywhere You Don’t Belong was a moving, fast-paced, poignant coming-of-age story about a young Black man from Chicago. For you if: You are looking for a strong #OwnVoices example of commercial literary fiction. FULL REVIEW: “And they’ve said, ‘Martin Luther King was a puppet.’ And these people who’ve said Martin Luther King was a puppet have also said, ‘Brother Malcolm got it right: any means necessary.’ And both those brothers got shot. And both those brothers wanted freedom. And the Civil Rights Act was political. And black America still isn’t free. And black men are still dying. And black women are still dying. And there’s anger, yes, there’s anger. And that anger has to go away when you go to work or go to school or ride the bus or go to the grocery store or go to a movie downtown. And that anger has to go away—if it doesn’t, how do you survive?” First of all, the biggest of thanks to the folks at Page 1 Books, who sent this to me as part of my monthly subscription. As you might expect when booksellers scour your Goodreads and Instagram to hand-pick a book for you, it was a perfect fit, and so poignant at this moment especially. Everywhere You Don’t Belong is about a young boy named Claude. Left by his parents, he was raised by his grandmother in South Shore, Chicago. He’s a bit of a misfit, never quite feeling at home in his own skin or among his peers — that is, until he meets Janice, first just a classmate but then a housemate once a (fictional) deadly days-long clash between a local gang and the police in their neighborhood destroys her home. Claude looks to college to pull him out of the place he feels stuck in, but home — and those who know your deepest self — have a way of finding you. I read this book in one sitting. I know “propulsive” is one of those over-used adjectives in book reviews, but it really does fit here. Short sentences, short paragraphs, short scenes set you flying through the pages, and your heart can barely keep up. The ending was something I never could have anticipated. It’s also really reminded me, in the end, that this book is truly fiction, a story; whereas the first half felt like it could have been historical fiction about true events (although the South Shore riots are, in fact, fictional). But I still think that it felt like a good ending, one that was simultaneously sad and hopeful. I think readers of commercial literary fiction — especially those seeking more #OwnVoices stories — will devour this one. TRIGGER WARNINGS: Racially motivated violence; Police brutality; Gun violence; Overt racism as well as microaggressions

  26. 4 out of 5

    Greta Sutherland

    As a white Midwesterner, I must say I felt a little voyeuristic peering into the world of a South Side Chicago teen as he navigated his way through life. As I read EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG, I was repeatedly struck with how much mental fortitude can be cemented at a very early age. For some, strength and bravery are developed through strong family encouragement and societal achievements. For others, it is forged from repeated loss and boldly overcoming overwhelming obstacles.⠀ Often the media p As a white Midwesterner, I must say I felt a little voyeuristic peering into the world of a South Side Chicago teen as he navigated his way through life. As I read EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG, I was repeatedly struck with how much mental fortitude can be cemented at a very early age. For some, strength and bravery are developed through strong family encouragement and societal achievements. For others, it is forged from repeated loss and boldly overcoming overwhelming obstacles.⠀ Often the media portrays life on the South Side of Chicago as either gang warfare or Michelle Obama. But where is the in-between? The place most urban Americans live? Author, Gabriel Bump takes us on a journey through the eyes of an everyday urban family living in a challenging neighborhood. He wanted his South Side readers to recognize themselves in his fictional (but true to life) story.⠀ The tempo of EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG moves at a fast clip. It’s a reading style that takes a second to get used to. But once you’re in the rhythm, good luck putting the book down. There are abrupt but brief jumps to the future weaved throughout the telling of this story of one young black man who can’t quite find his place in the world. Death and abandonment are reoccurring themes in this generational story. The sheer determination to do better boils underneath all the chaos.⠀ The time-period is predominantly during the Obama administration (a proud moment for any Chicagoan.) Change is promised but does the everyday black American see it? The main character is searching for the place where he belongs. It isn’t the civil-rights activism of his grandmother’s time but it also doesn’t seem to be in a college classroom either. He calls to question all of our individual stories of belongingness.⠀ Mixed with humor and racial integrity, EVERYWHERE will make you think, will awaken you to societies and cultures vastly different than your own, and will ultimately ask you how you find your own place in our world.⠀ This is a strong debut novel written from a place of knowing, believing and surviving.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bookworm

    I don't quite remember what drew me to the book, but I remember eagerly awaiting for the release date to approach. But it sounded like a really interesting tale of a young man growing up in Chicago and coming of age with all of the dramas and angst that time period brings (plus with societal/cultural issues). Claude is growing up with his grandmother in Chicago and deals with life. His grandmother's live-in boyfriend (sort of), relationship troubles, being bullied at school and elsewhere, trying I don't quite remember what drew me to the book, but I remember eagerly awaiting for the release date to approach. But it sounded like a really interesting tale of a young man growing up in Chicago and coming of age with all of the dramas and angst that time period brings (plus with societal/cultural issues). Claude is growing up with his grandmother in Chicago and deals with life. His grandmother's live-in boyfriend (sort of), relationship troubles, being bullied at school and elsewhere, trying to fit in (or not), understanding his place in the world, etc. He is well-aware, as a young black man, how society views him and this is him navigating through a world that eyes him suspiciously. I wasn't feeling this one. It never really caught my attention. It's dialogue-heavy and none of the characters (including Claude), seemed to be particularly compelling or even fleshed out very well. There were moments and bits where I did feel for Claude (at the very end), but overall the book was forgettable. It could be this debut just doesn't work for me. Library borrow.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    While I enjoyed the book, a coming of age novel of a young black man Claude who is searching for a way to fit in, to make something of himself. The setting is the South Side of Chicago. I think the first part of the book kept me engaged, but that fell off about halfway through. I think this was quite a different style of writing as well. Different is good, though it sometimes made it hard to follow. I appreciate that Claude wanted to make changes in his life, and that like some people, there is While I enjoyed the book, a coming of age novel of a young black man Claude who is searching for a way to fit in, to make something of himself. The setting is the South Side of Chicago. I think the first part of the book kept me engaged, but that fell off about halfway through. I think this was quite a different style of writing as well. Different is good, though it sometimes made it hard to follow. I appreciate that Claude wanted to make changes in his life, and that like some people, there is often no way to get completely away from our past. Thank you to Kristen at Algonquin books for providing a free electronic ARC of this book for an honest review. I DO see a future for further work of Gabriel Bump!

  29. 4 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    I'd be lying if I said this coming-of-age story about Claude didn't make me uncomfortable at times whatwith the violent upbringing in Chicago's South Shore by his grandma and her live-in partner of sorts, the inappropriate sexual relationship he shares with his little friend Janice, and basic lack of communication between all parties regarding all and sundry. What I did really like was Claude's awareness of black history, white privilege and social justice; his list of six important dates in Bla I'd be lying if I said this coming-of-age story about Claude didn't make me uncomfortable at times whatwith the violent upbringing in Chicago's South Shore by his grandma and her live-in partner of sorts, the inappropriate sexual relationship he shares with his little friend Janice, and basic lack of communication between all parties regarding all and sundry. What I did really like was Claude's awareness of black history, white privilege and social justice; his list of six important dates in Black American History is impressive and should be replicated, and I would love to see him wax further on the philosophy of racist societal differences.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Georgette

    Exactly the kind of book I needed to pull myself out of the depression. Thank you to Mark for recommending it.

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