Synopses & Reviews
Marcus and Eddie are best friends. They're also stars on the basketball court, where they're known as Black and White. Race has never been an issue: Marcus is black, Eddie is white, but it doesn't matter. Until they start to pull stickups for extra pocket cash and the gun they're using goes off. Now Marcus is going to jail and Eddie is going to college, even though Eddie is the one who fired the gun.
Told in their two voices, Black and White is the gripping story of two good boys who make a bad mistake. It's also a heart-breaking look at the realities of the urban criminal justice system. Written with passion and uncanny authenticity, this is Paul Volponi's debut young adult novel.
"Volponi's (Rikers) excellent novel has it all: authentic characters, a thought-provoking plot and heartbreaking drama. Marcus Brown and Eddie Russo are best friends and basketball stars at a Queens, N.Y., high school, well-known not only for their athletic prowess but also because Marcus is black and Eddie white ('Kids who are different colors don't get to be that tight in my neighborhood'). As Marcus says, they've gotten 'past all that racial crap,' but the novel makes it clear that the rest of society hasn't. Short on cash, the boys stick up a few strangers using Eddie's grandfather's gun, which accidentally discharges during their third robbery, grazing an African-American man's head. In alternating first-person narratives, the two describe the aftermath of the events. Marcus is arrested first because the victim recognizes him as a passenger on the public bus he drives. The cops soon connect the dots and figure out Eddie is 'the shooter,' but the evidence against him is only circumstantial. Grand plans of scholarships and pro careers begin to unravel, more dramatically for Marcus, whose family does not have the means to hire an attorney. The two teens wrestle with guilt and obligation to their parents, to their victims and to each other. The mess in which they find themselves raises questions about the burdens of friendship and the role race plays in criminal justice. The fast-paced action, vivid on-court scenes and gritty, natural dialogue make this a pageturner of a tale. Ages 12-up. (May) " Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The plotting is tight, the action is swift, and the troubling outcome that finds Marcus headed to Prison and Eddie off to college is, sadly all too believable." -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review
"Using authentic voices that will draw in both strong and reluctant readers, Volponi writes a taut novel, avoiding didactism and deftly balancing the drama and passion on the basketball court with each boy’s private terror and anguish. Teens will want to discuss the story’s layered moral ambiguities, heartbreaking choices, and as Marcus says, “the line that separates black and white." -Booklist, starred review
"Using authentic voices that will draw in both strong and reluctant readers, Volponi writes a taut novel, avoiding didactism and deftly balancing the drama and passion on the basketball court with each boy’s private terror and anguish." —Booklist, starred review
Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other's backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one night—and one wrong decision—will change their lives forever. Will their mistake cost them their friendship . . . and their future?
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults
An ALA Quick Pick “Top Ten”
IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult)
About the Author
Paul Volponi is the author of the critically acclaimed young adult novel Black and White. From 1992 to 1998, he taught adolescents on Rikers Island in New York City to read and write. Mr. Volponi worked at a day treatment center like Daytop teaching students and helping them prepare for the GED. Mr. Volponi lives in New York City.