Green by Sam Graham-Felsen
A Novel

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Moments like these — rendered subtly, without poster-size messaging — are when “Green” is at its most prickly and compelling.
-NY Times


A coming-of-age novel about race, privilege, and the struggle to rise in America, written by a former Obama campaign staffer and propelled by an exuberant, unforgettable narrator.
“A fierce and brilliant book, comic, poignant, perfectly observed, and blazing with all the urgent fears and longings of adolescence.”—Helen Macdonald, author of H Is for Hawk

Boston, 1992. David Greenfeld is one of the few white kids at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Middle School. Everybody clowns him, girls ignore him, and his hippie parents won’t even buy him a pair of Nikes, let alone transfer him to a private school. Unless he tests into the city’s best public high school—which, if practice tests are any indication, isn’t likely—he’ll be friendless for the foreseeable future.

Nobody’s more surprised than Dave when Marlon Wellings sticks up for him in the school cafeteria. Mar’s a loner from the public housing project on the corner of Dave’s own gentrifying block, and he confounds Dave’s assumptions about black culture: He’s nerdy and neurotic, a Celtics obsessive whose favorite player is the gawky, white Larry Bird. Before long, Mar’s coming over to Dave’s house every afternoon to watch vintage basketball tapes and plot their hustle to Harvard. But as Dave welcomes his new best friend into his world, he realizes how little he knows about Mar’s. Cracks gradually form in their relationship, and Dave starts to become aware of the breaks he’s been given—and that Mar has not.

Infectiously funny about the highs and lows of adolescence, and sharply honest in the face of injustice, Sam Graham-Felsen’s debut is a wildly original take on the American dream.

Praise for Green

“Prickly and compelling . . . Graham-Felsen lets boys be boys: messy-brained, impulsive, goatish, self-centered, outwardly gutsy but often inwardly terrified.”—The New York Times Book Review (Editors’ Choice)

“A comically geeky coming-of-age story that brims with anxiety, resentment, and a surplus of compassion . . . a riot of language that’s part hip-hop, part nerd boy, and part pure imagination . . . Green earns . . . a spot on the continuum of vernacular in the American literary tradition, from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to The Catcher in the Rye and Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”—The Boston Globe

“A heartfelt and unassumingly ambitious book.”—Slate

About Sam Graham-Felsen

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Published January 2, 2018 by Random House. 322 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Green
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Above average
on Sep 28 2017

But the author’s focus on Green’s quotidian concerns about school and girls limits attention on Marlon, who has the more dramatic story, and other threads concerning religion, Green’s quirky brother, and his family’s connection to the Holocaust feel extraneous and unfinished. A well-turned if familiar race-themed bildungsroman.

Read Full Review of Green: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jonathan Miles on Jan 15 2018

Moments like these — rendered subtly, without poster-size messaging — are when “Green” is at its most prickly and compelling.

Read Full Review of Green: A Novel | See more reviews from NY Times

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