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Deacon King Kong by James McBride

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.

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Black Buck by Mateo Askaripour

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I love this book. It starts off slowly, setting the scene and giving the reader a glimpse into Darren’s safe, predictable life working as a shift manager at Starbucks and spending time with his mother and girlfriend. One day he gets recruited to be a salesperson in an elite, cut-throat start-up company, and that’s when the pace of the book takes off and doesn’t slow down until the end. Darren is the only African American person in the company, and his supervisor nicknames him “Buck”. The running “joke” throughout the book is that various colleagues tell him he looks like one or another African American actor. Buck is taken under the wing of the company CEO and once he begins work, the two become close.

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