In contemporary American fiction
there are very few examples of novels that have portrayed the realities of
black inner-city life with honesty, empathy, and storytelling skills. Into that
near-vacuum steps Marcus Burke and his first novel, Team Seven—a
literarily accomplished, autobiographically tinged coming-of-age family drama
with an undeniably authentic feel for place, language, and character.
As Andre Battel, a native of
Milton, a town south of Boston, ages from age eight through his teenage years,
he grows away from his Jamaican family, discovers genuine prowess on the
basketball court, and eventually falls into dealing drugs for the local street
gang, Team Seven. But when Andre and his crew fall behind on payments, dire and
violent consequences await. The story is told primarily through Andre’s voice,
but we also see the point of view of his mother, Ruby, a hardworking medical
secretary; his older sister, Nina; his mostly-not-there and typically
drunk-and-high father, Eddy, a halfhearted reggae musician; and Reggie and
Smoke, the kingpins of competing drug crews.
What emerges is a rich
portrait of a black family, a black community, and one young man poised between
youthful innocence and ambiguous experience. Download and start listening now!