Tuesday, October 27, 2009
George Pelecanos in his book "The Way Home" took me inside the hearts, heads and environments of young men in America. The story takes place in Washington D.C. The lives of Chris, Ali, Ben, Lawrence and the other boys is tough and raw. For one reason or another these boys end up in juvenile facilities. While locked up, life is unpredictable and grim. It's almost like living on the streets without anyone to help or protect you. After leaving this place, the boys continue a daily struggle to exist without meeting trouble again.
In "The Way Home" most of the boys are blacks, Hispanics and only a few white boys. Only Chris comes from a two parent home. His father owns a carpeting business. Automatically, Chris has a job waiting for him when he gets out of Pine Ridge. Chris and his dad will give other boys a hand up to make money honestly and to learn a trade. Still, life is unpredictable. Temptation comes from the least expected places. Violence also doesn't always come in the dark, in a bar or in an alley. Violence, in this instance, takes a side route by way of two thugs named Sonny and Wayne in a house that is being redecorated.
Also, there aren't just guys in "The Way Home." There are also girls and women. I think Amanda and Katherine make the hard places softer to land for Chris and Thomas Flynn. This book made me think a lot about the lives of some youths, what they go through every single day in order to survive. I thought about parents like Thomas and Amanda Flynn who try there best and still see failure ahead for their children.
I also thought about Dorita, the young mother in the book. She lies on the couch watching tv, watching her kids and eating chips, drinking sodas. I thought a lot about her past, present and future, especially the future of her son Marquis who wants to grow up to be a scientist. Sadly, no one knows exactly how to get him out of the neighborhood before it's too late.
George Pelecanos pulls no punches in this book. Without one judgmental word he showed me reality. At times I wanted to run from his book. Throw it down and not finish it. Other times I just wanted to cry and close my eyes to reality. Then, at the end, I wanted to act. I wanted to do something to change the ugly places of this world.
I will never forget the characters in "The Way Home" because they are "real" people with different names living in different cities around the country. These people are our future, if we allow each other to live to see a future.