Break. For some teens, Summer provides a separation from the world of school in one place, and the world of a summer in another. Each location has its unique set of friends and activities. Colson Whitehead presents a finely written account of such a life in his new novel, Sag Harbor. Protagonist Benji Cooper leaves the world of his private Manhattan school, where at age fifteen he is one of the few black students, for the Long Island enclave of choice for many black urban professionals, Sag Harbor. This is the Summer when Benji and his younger brother, Reggie, achieve some identity separation from each other. Parents are mostly absent, and their work and play adventures are carried out in the lazy special way that perfect summers can be. I was transported by Sag Harbor back to my childhood and early teenage years of spending one part of the year in the city and the summer at a bungalow on the beach. Parents rarely knew and never learned of most of what happened on those summer days and nights. Whitehead’s prose includes descriptive language that coveys the sights and sounds of place, alongside dialogue and settings that bring the 1980s to life on every page. You have until Labor Day to read this fine book and make your summer of 2009 a special delight.
Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)