Rating: 4 out of 5.

This was the book for our January book club meeting. I hadn’t heard of the book until it was chosen, and then it seemed like I saw it everywhere. The book is a well-written peek into the life of residents in a section of a housing project in south Brooklyn. The story starts with an alcoholic, cranky elderly church deacon named Sportcoat shooting the local drug dealer in front of everyone in the middle of the project’s courtyard. From there, the book weaves the stories of the various residents from the Five Ends Baptist Church that witnessed the shooting and are affected by it, as well as the police officer assigned to investigate the shooting and a local Italian mobster.

I confess that I didn’t really like the first part of the book. I struggled with it so much so that I set it down for a few days and read something else. When I came back to read the last half of the book, however, I started to really enjoy it. I began to invest in the characters and was concerned for how things were going to work out for them.

There are a lot of characters in the book. The main characters are well developed, and even some of the minor ones are fairly fleshed out. The interactions between the characters is dynamic and feels very authentic. I like how the author doesn’t shy away from difficult topics, and even though things look bleak at times, he instills tiny flashes of hope here and there.

This is a very interesting book and a unique story. After my initial misgivings, I ended up really enjoying it and was happy our host chose it for our book club. It’s a book that I recommend you read.