A short novel, it follows the life
of A.J.as a young man living in the ghetto with his college-educated
parents and his sister. The "Acknowledgments" page reveals a focus on
darkness, choices, and right and wrong. The author notes that, "Most
tragedies generally happen under the cover of darkness," and getting
out of such darkness into the light is the focus of this novel.
A.J. grows up in Chicago surrounded by poverty, gang banging, stealing, drugs and alcohol, guns, and predators. He attends Northwestern University and is a starter on the basketball team. With his looks, being an athlete, and having a "player" mentality, A.J. focuses on the women he meets more than his studies or basketball. With his various sexual conquests, he clashes with a football player which leads to the ongoing saga of A.J.'s life after he inexplicably quits school and has a variety of run-ins with the police. The book then focuses on his work at a car wash, seeking revenge, and the horrors happening to his family. He understands how his choices have caused him problems, but his poor decision making ends in ultimate consequences. The last chapter focuses on the need to save such individuals as A.J.
Written in ghetto slang with a "player" mentality, it offers a unique take on the plight of young African Americans, both with the novel as story and the beginning and ending chapters regarding black culture. While it tells of the need to go back in time to when young men were literally whipped into shape through corporal punishment, it also examines the healthier needs for education and Christianity. Some readers may cringe over the continued sexualizing and degradation of women. Also, the story line sometimes changes focus quickly between years and events which can be confusing. However, the novel does tell a pertinent story and could be used as a teaching moment, which is the author's intent.