Review

“Me and my cousin Skinny stood b y ourselves in the large foyer that led to the front doors. It’s the first day of high school for us. The year is 1973. Our freshman year. We gaze out through those front doors to the sparkling blue sky that opened up majestically above us, the American flag rippling in the mild breeze, high up the flag pole on the front lawn.

Heaving a synchronistic sigh, we check out the scene in front of us – the paintings of George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Jefferson adorning the foyer walls, our new classmates spread among us in the hall, chattering excitedly in their own little groups. Fresh faced girls with spindly filly-like legs, blond crew cut jock types punching each other in the arms, scientific brainiacs with Clark Kent glasses, peeking about nervously. Everybody – the kids, the paintings – had one thing in common, though. They were all white. Painfully white. The kind of white people who should never be exposed to bright sunlight. Thank God me and Skinny  had some color, I though to myself, owing to our Sicilian heritage. At least we were olive-skinned. We could get brown in the summer. These other kids – no hope.

Suddenly, a dilapidated school bus from like – the 1950?s – comes chugging up the street, clouds of smothering black smoke spewing from it’s tailpipe into the picturesque background. It is immediately followed by another equally monstrous relic, as their brakes screech, the gears groan and the buses lurch to a thumping half right in front of Roselle High.

The joyous buzz reverberating through the foyer quickly dissipated, replaced by an overwhelming crescendo threatening laughter, cursing and yelling from outside.

I could sense the collective shiver rise from our group inside as the doors to the ancient vehicles creak open, and the noise threatens to pierce the sound barrier. One by one they pour out. Giants. Imposing Black giants – and those were the girls…”

And that is how Joe Montaperto sets up THE EDGE OF WHITENESS, a book that brought back so many memories of my own life, although I was born, raised, and still live in the South. THE EDGE OF WHITENESS is a coming of age book that anyone who lived in the 60s-70s can resonate with. We all went through the desegregation of the schools and the adjustment of attending school with “people of color.”

It was well written with uncanny honesty and is a book worth reading.

Rather than regurgitating the book blurb, I’ll tell you just how Joe hits the proverbial nail on the head with his depiction of the buses rolling to a stop in front of the school and nothing remaining the same. Everyone’s world changed on that day. I know my life was never the same. For me, the change came as I was entering seventh grade.

I had attended a small town all-white elementary and in seventh grade began attending a junior high school that brought together all of the kids in our half of the parish. Not only was I thrown in with many other white kids I did not know, but I was also introduced to the first black kids I had ever seen except for the sanitation workers. I don’t think any of us quite knew where to put ourselves.

Territory and groups were quickly marked in a pattern that would last throughout my three years of junior high and three years of high school. It was a place that I didn’t want to be and was only too happy to leave behind at graduation.

As a kid, you tended to think that what was happening in your neighborhood was unique to only your part of the world. It turns out, that after reading this book, I realized my little part of the world was the same as everyone else’s.

I’m giving THE EDGE OF WHITENESS five stars. It was well written with uncanny honesty and is a book worth reading. And I liked the cover. That alone made me laugh. How easy we forget the look of the past. What you don’t see above is the humor with which Joe Montaperto writes. His fascination with noses as opposed to breasts or legs. His falling in love and getting the crap beat out of him. His boldness in training in a gym on the wrong side of the tracks. He weaves his story with historical accuracy and humor that will leave you laughing out loud. I invite you to pick this book and read it and see for yourself.

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Short URL: http://tinyurl.com/h8qlnoe


About the Reviewer

Donna McBroom-Theriot
Writer. Book Reviewer. Southern Lady. Connoisseur of Chocolate. My Life is like an episode of "I love Lucy!" I'm a writer, book reviewer, and a Southern Lady who loves her Sweet Tea. My blog, My Life. One Story at a Time. is where I've been writing short stories since 2009. As luck would have it, the very first short story I wrote was published within months of my writing it. This quote pretty much sums me up: "Deep in my heart, I know there’s no promise I’ll be free from trouble in this life. In fact, I’m usually either getting out of trouble, currently in trouble, or about to meet trouble around the next corner." Well, you know that old saying, "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions" - that road is usually the one I'm on! And, as much I used to mock (we all grow up eventually) the Cajun dialect, 15 years ago, I found myself marrying the sweetest Cajun boy - complete with the requisite white trawl boots and a trawl boat. I love writing stories about the South and life with our two German Shepherds, and the four kids who meander in and out of our lives as they live their own journeys. Most days you'll find me out on the front porch swing, with the dogs at my feet, a tall glass of sweet iced tea close by, and a good book. It's what life in the South is all about. - See more at: http://mylife-in-stories.blogspot.com/p/about-me.html#sthash.VAmp18XE.dpuf

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