This pocket size, slim volume packs all the emotion and detail of a full length novel. Samuel Gerson is a seventeen-year-old high school student from a loving home on the right side of the tracks in 1990s Baltimore. He is a good baseball player, a solid student, and has a female best friend and is ripe to change up the predictability of his daily life. He seeks out friendship outside his expected circle. Dmitri Zilber and his sister Yelizaveta are new Russian immigrants at Samuel’s school who mix with a dangerous crowd. Samuel is smitten with beautiful, street-smart Yelizaveta and intrigued by Dmitri’s confident attitude, protectiveness, and sensitivity. They share an interest in literature. Though the two young men’s lifestyles are vastly different they connect when they compare Samuel’s grandfather’s suffering in forced labor camps and Dmitri’s grandfather’s time in the Gulag. Samuel’s need for friendship with Dmitri leads to spending time with Dmitri’s rough friends. Dangerous situations ensue and some lives are changed for the better while others stagnate or worsen. Readers see and smell Baltimore through Gerson’s drives through the city. This compact and intense coming of age novel is suitable for teens and adults.
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