This wonderfully written book, set in the 1950s, captures the angst of high school freshman Melvin Robinson, who is entering tough terrain with several strikes already against him. He stutters so much that pronouncing his own name is a challenge, and he is Black in a predominately white school. In Melvin’s world, there are “whites only” public events and the brutal, racially motivated murder of Emmet Till. Melvin is also constantly aware of Atom-bomb testing.
In his friendships with students of diverse backgrounds, Melvin finds empathy and a sense of unity born of sharing similar challenges. His Jewish friend, Lenny, a musician, encourages Melvin to allow his musical talent to soar. His crush on Millie (another stutter-challenging name) who is of Japanese heritage, develops slowly and delightfully throughout the story.
Frazier helps readers of today understand a time different than their own which is filled with onerous obstacles successfully overcome.
Award-winning journalist and freelance writer, Helen Weiss Pincus, has taught memoir writing and creative writing throughout the NY Metro area to senior citizens and high school students. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Record, The Jewish Standard, and other publications. She recently added “Bubby” to her job description.