cover image The Weight

The Weight

Jeff Boyd. Simon & Schuster, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-66800-725-9

In Boyd’s delightful debut, a Black man tries to find happiness in the largely white hipster haven of Portland, Ore. Julian Strickland, 26, the son of a Chicago police detective, works a dull office job, drums in a rock band, and is at loose ends, having just broken up with his girlfriend. At a gig, he meets a beautiful Black painter, Ida, and falls hard for her. Ida, though, is fresh off a breakup herself and isn’t ready for a new relationship. Soon after, the band goes on a West Coast tour, but after returning to Portland, various band members fall out with their girlfriends, Julian glimpses Ida holding hands with someone else, and the turmoil could mean the end of the group just as they’ve signed with a storied indie label. Julian also has several harrowing encounters with the police that leave him vividly imagining his death at their hands, even with his father’s union card in his back pocket. Boyd’s writing is preternaturally wise, and his characters come to life with natural dialogue and brutally honest confrontations. This pulses with the beat of life. (Apr.)