GOLD DUST by Chris Lynch


Age Range: 11 - 13


The versatile author of Gypsy Davey (1994) and the Blue Eyed Son trilogy weaves a subtle, challenging study of star-crossed friendship. Richard Riley Moncrief likes his life, but loves baseball, both for the joy of hitting a ball a mile, and the delicious anticipation that this season, 1975, will belong to the Red Sox, with their new rookies Fred Lynn and Jim Rice, the Gold Dust Twins. Into his complacent world walks cultured, quiet Napoleon Charlie Ellis, newly arrived from Dominica with his college-professor father. Sure that his baseball dreams are big enough for two and bright enough to wash out color differences, Richard rides roughshod over Napoleon’s stiff manners and professed preference for cricket. He teaches him the rudiments of hitting and pitching (at which he shows marked aptitude), and urges him to make the effort to get along, to fit in, to ignore the racist remarks of their school’s newly bused-in students. Napoleon, though, is not a compromiser. Through Richard’s uncomprehending eyes, readers will see Napoleon’s pride and anger clearly, his feelings of dislocation, and his sharp awareness of racial tensions. In the end, the fragile trust that grows between these two seventh graders is shattered when Richard drills Napoleon with two pitches in a row, an accident, Richard swears, but enough of a betrayal to drive Napoleon into accepting a scholarship to another school. Reminiscent of Jerry Spinelli’s Crash (1996) for the gulf of misunderstanding—wide, but not too wide for readers, at least, to peer across—between the main characters, this offers no glib insights or easy resolution. But maybe, just maybe, Richard is a bit more aware at the end that others have dreams, too. (Fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 2000
ISBN: 0-06-028174-X
Page count: 208pp
Publisher: HarperCollins
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 2000


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