A glorious coming of age novel set in the 90s about a 6th grade boy whose uber crunchy Harvard-educated parents believe that he should go to his local public school even though they seem to have no idea how hard it is to be in the minority where he is teased unmercifully from bus ride to lunchroom to classroom. While his younger brother who hasn’t spoken for over a year, attends a cush private school, because he is sensitive and troubled, or so Dave thinks. Young Dave, aka Green, would much prefer this school. His grandfather, Cramps, a Holocaust survivor and accomplished MIT professor, can’t imagine not pushing yourself to do your best, what can Dave possibly be up against at the King middle school.
Green narrates the story with a voice that is fresh, honest, funny, observant, and pained. He just wants to fit in. Find a friend, relate to a girl, not have to defend himself each day, or struggle in school. He is faced with what he calls the ‘force’ and it is a battle that doesn’t seem like he can win.
And, I quote: "The force is a match and a muzzle. It doesn't just spark the hate, it smothers the love, holds us back from the most natural shit of all – rooting for the home team." When you read it in context, you will have an even greater appreciation for where Green is coming from.
Meet Mar, who also attends 'the King', and while the two boys live near each other, they could not be farther apart. Yet something unites them. The Celtics.
The odds are against this friendship. They are dealing with so much inner turmoil from teenage angst, sexual frustration, academic stress, throw in race, and where they fit in from a social standpoint. It will take a big shield to fight the force.
You don’t need to be a teenage boy to appreciate this story. Whoever you are, wherever you are from, there is something to gain from the perspective of young Green’s tale. His language alone is a lesson in cool. Mar’s love of the Celtics and his allegiance to the Bird gives new meaning to being a fan.