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HARLEM SUMMER by Walter Dean Myers

HARLEM SUMMER

By Walter Dean Myers

Age Range: 12 - 16

Pub Date: March 1st, 2007
ISBN: 0-439-36843-X
Publisher: Scholastic

Set in 1925 New York, this tour de force features walk-ons by a bevy of Harlem Renaissance notables. Sax-playing Mark, 16, faces a summer of dreaded toil at his uncle’s funeral parlor. Instead, he lands a job at The Crisis, the influential journal of Negro politics and culture edited by W. E. B. DuBois. Mark’s oft-clueless, hormone-spiked narrative bumps up against the likes of Langston Hughes, Ethel Waters and—in a pivotal role—Fats Waller, universally liked and slightly shady. Provisionally adopted by The Crisis’s literary editor, Miss Jessie Fauset, Mark attends Alfred Knopf’s elegant party, which serves up illegal liquor (like the rent parties uptown) and music that gets a little too hot. Mark and friend Henry get mixed up with rival crime bosses when, during a one-time gig arranged by Fats, the bootleg booze they load onto a truck disappears with its driver. Peppered with hilarious dialogue and serving up an exuberant meld of fact and fiction, this works equally well as a stellar addition to the Harlem Renaissance curriculum and a just-for-fun read. (Historical fiction. 12-16)