cover image Team Seven

Team Seven

Marcus Burke. Doubleday, $25.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-385-53779-7

In his debut novel, Burke tells the coming of age story of Andre Battel, an African American boy growing up in a small town near South Boston. Andre's story is told through slice-of-life vignettes from the perspective of the protagonist and his addict father, Eddy. With each chapter, Andre's life gets more layered, showing his troubled relationship with his abusive father, his religious clashes with his mother, his conflicted feelings about his sister, and his "player" attitude with girls. In a pivotal episode, we see Andre begin a downward spiral as he becomes the seventh member of the Squad Six gang, altering the gang's name and his life. The writing is rich with street vernacular, adding authenticity and depth to Andre's inner and outer worlds. Burke is brilliantly coy in his portrayal of Eddy, whose narration embodies the emotional maturity of a father with the reliability of an addict. The plot builds toward a climax typical for a story about two feuding drug gangs, but Burke chooses contemplation over action in his execution and as a result offers a moving glimpse into the life choices of one inner city boy. Agent: David McCormick, McCormick & Williams (Apr.)