Wednesday, September 24, 2014

“The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace” By Jeff Hobbs

"One man is Shawn, born to a sweet-talking, drug-pushing father named Skeet, who tries to keep his son from books, fearing they will make him too soft for a hard world. Instead, Skeet teaches Shawn how to fight, intimidate, know everyone on avenues where it’s lethal not to. When Skeet is imprisoned for killing two women, Shawn inherits his friends. He becomes a dealer, too, eventually sleeping in his car, wearing a Kevlar vest.
The other man is Rob, son of a feistily aspirational mother, who, while toiling in kitchens, wishes for her child the escape she never had. She borrows books from the local library to read to her small son, and later buys him the first volume of an encyclopedia, getting additional ones, letter by letter, when she can afford them. She navigates their bleak world to find institutions and people who will help him. A Benedictine school rescues Rob. A bank executive offers to pay all his college expenses. Yale accepts him. He majors in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, and works in a cancer and infectious disease laboratory.
What makes this book so devastating is that these two men, Rob and Shawn, are really one: Robert DeShaun Peace, who went from a New Jersey ghetto to Yale to wherever men go after dying face down, knees bent, in a drug-related murder."
From a NYT book review of Anand Giridharadas

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