Sunday, January 9, 2011

Sag Harbor

Whitehead, Colson. Sag Harbor
Anchor see Random 2009 329p 15.95
978-0-307-45516-1 hs/adult VG
Fifteen year old Benji’s spends summer in Sag Harbor, an African American enclave near the Hamptons. Whitehead examines 80’s culture through the eyes of a nerdy, well-meaning teen in this coming of age novel. Benji spends his summers with his family in the African American enclave of Sag Harbor, a beach community near the Hamptons. A lot of the parents, are professionals who work in Manhatten during the week and spend the weekends in Sag Harbor. Benji, his brother and most of their friends are unsupervised most of the week, but fear not, because they are teens with jobs who understand the rules. Benji is a self-described nerd who goes to a mainly white private school but interacts during the summers with other African American teens who’s families have been coming to Sag Harbor for generations. Whitehead writes a coming of age novel that examines the 80’s culture through the eyes of a well-meaning and sometimes confused 15 year old. Slice of life vignettes are a mainstay of this novel; scenes in the ice cream store Benji works in are funny, his family dynamics are realistically agonizing, and his adolescent relationships with his friends are honest. This well written book describes Benji’s summer as he yearns to leave his childhood behind and enter the perplexing world of a middle-class African American teen during 1985. Benji offers an alternative to Holden Caufield; less angry but still trying to find his place in the world.
This coming of age novel is a very good selection for high school collections; it will add an extra dimension and additional perspective on aspects of teen angst. Weinraub, Tina

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