Review and Giveaway: The Turnaround
In the 1970’s, three teen-age white boys – Billy, Pete and Alex – were out drinking, smoking pot and cruising. They drove into a black neighborhood, pulled up alongside three teen-aged black boys – Raymond, James and Charles – rolled down the window, threw a Hostess cherry pie at one the young men and yelled a racial epithet. When the white boys sped off, they discovered the street ended in a turnaround; when they returned the black youths were waiting for them. One boy, Pete, jumped out of the car and ran off; the rest were involved in “the incident” that left Billy, the driver of the car, dead and Alex wounded.
Thirty years later, Alex is running his father’s coffee shop and mourning the death of his younger son in Iraq. Pete is a hugely successful lawyer. James seems to have straightened himself out after years in prison and is working as an auto mechanic. Raymond is a physical therapist, working with wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Hospital. Charles has been in and out of trouble and still seems to think the world owes him something.
After a chance encounter at Walter Reed, Alex and Raymond get together to talk and to try to make amends. Alex makes a startling discovery about “the incident,” and decides it’s time to make some changes in his life.
The title of The Turnaround by George Pelecanos is perfect – it signifies the turnaround involved in “the incident” and the turnaround most of the characters make in their lives. I really enjoyed this book and was engrossed in it and its characters from start to finish. The character development in this crime novel is fantastic. I empathized with most of the characters and wanted them to make good decisions. George Pelecanos has decided to include some social issues in his books and he includes the war and our treatment of veterans in this one, which I found fascinating too. The Turnaround has some graphic moments and foul language, but I thought they were both suitable for the nature of the novel.
I found this great interview of George Pelecanos and discovered that “the incident” is based on a real-life event. He wrote the book because he wondered what happens to the people involved in events like that. This book is also somewhat autobiographical for him since his father owned a coffee shop.
I have an extra copy of The Turnaround to give away to one lucky reader. To enter, simply leave a comment on this post. Contest is open worldwide. I will use random.org to determine the winner. Contest ends at midnight EST, Sunday, May 24, 2009. Winner will be announced on Monday, May 25, 2009.