THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE by Jeff Hobbs
Kirkus Star

THE SHORT AND TRAGIC LIFE OF ROBERT PEACE

A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League But Did Not Survive

KIRKUS REVIEW

Ambitious, moving tale of an inner-city Newark kid who made it to Yale yet succumbed to old demons and economic realities.

Novelist Hobbs (The Tourists, 2007) combines memoir, sociological analysis and urban narrative elements, producing a perceptive page-turner regarding the life of his eponymous protagonist, also his college roommate. Peace’s mother was fiercely independent, working nonstop in hospital kitchens to help aging parents keep their house. His father, a charming hustler, was attentive to Robert until his conviction on questionable evidence in a double murder. Mrs. Peace pushed her bright son toward parochial school, the best course for survival in Newark, already notorious for economic struggles and crime. Compulsively studious, Robert thrived there—a banker alumnus offered to pay his college tuition—and also at Yale. Hobbs contrasts his personal relationship with Robert with a cutting critique of university life, for the privileged and less so, capturing the absurd remove that “model minority” and working-class students experience. At Yale, Peace both performed high-end lab work in his medical major and discreetly dealt marijuana, enhancing his campus popularity, even as he held himself apart: “Rob was incredibly skilled in not showing how he felt [and] at concealing who he was and who he wanted to be.” After graduation, Peace drifted, as did many of his peers: Hobbs notes that even for their privileged classmates, professional success seemingly necessitated brutal hours and deep debt. But Peace drifted back into the Newark drug trade; in 2011, he was murdered by some of the city’s increasingly merciless gangsters due to his involvement in high-grade cannabis production. Hobbs manages the ambiguities of what could be a grim tale by meticulously constructing environmental verisimilitude and unpacking the rituals of hardscrabble parochial schools, Yale secret societies, urban political machinations and Newark drug gangs.

An urgent report on the state of American aspirations and a haunting dispatch from forsaken streets.

Pub Date: Sept. 23rd, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4767-3190-2
Page count: 416pp
Publisher: Scribner
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2014




BEST BIOGRAPHIES OF 2014:

NonfictionBOY ON ICE by John Branch
by John Branch
NonfictionTHE TASTEMAKER by Edward White
by Edward White
NonfictionTHE MANTLE OF COMMAND by Nigel Hamilton
by Nigel Hamilton
NonfictionONE WAY OUT by Alan Paul
by Alan Paul
NonfictionTHE SNOWDEN FILES by Luke Harding
by Luke Harding

OUR CRITICS' TAKES ON MORE BESTSELLERS

See full list >
Cover art for THE RUMOR
VERDICT:
BORROW IT
Cover art for FINDING AUDREY
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Cover art for THE PRESIDENT'S SHADOW
VERDICT:
SKIP IT
Cover art for ONE MAN AGAINST THE WORLD
VERDICT:
BUY IT
Kirkus Interview
Jeff Hobbs
October 14, 2014

When writer Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the ‘80s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, “fronting” in Yale, and at home. Hobbs’ best-selling book The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is an ambitious, moving tale of an inner-city Newark kid who made it to Yale yet succumbed to old demons and economic realities. View video >

SIMILAR BOOKS SUGGESTED BY OUR CRITICS:

NonfictionPURPOSE by Wyclef Jean
by Wyclef Jean
NonfictionSTREET SHADOWS by Jerald Walker
by Jerald Walker
NonfictionBAREFOOT TO AVALON by David Payne
by David Payne