Dodgers: A novel

by William Beverly

Hardcover, 2016





New York : Crown Publishers, [2016]


Sent by his uncle along with his hotheaded brother and other teens to kill a major witness, East, a young gang member from Los Angeles, finds his perspectives changed by his encounters outside of the city.

Media reviews

Alhoewel gepresenteerd als thriller is Weg veel meer een soort van coming-of-age roman. East is een vijftienjarige jongen die als bewaker van een drugspand actief. De politie rolt het drugspand op. East is er getuige van dat een jong meisje slachtoffer wordt van de gewelddadigheden die tijdens het oprollen van het drugspand. Van de leider van de criminele bende krijgt hij hierna de opdracht om een belangrijke getuige die in het Midwesten woonachtig is te liquideren...lees verder >
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The LibraryThing Early Reviewers
Four LA gang members travel east on a take out mission...what follows is a journey not only filled with miscalculations, misunderstandings, and a car ride through the US, but the story takes you on East's struggle with who he is, who he doesn't want to become, and the life he seemingly is bound to live. It's a fast paced tale that concludes in a surprising, unexpected manner, and it's an action driven plot that has the reader glimpse into the life of what it means to be an urban, black youth in America.

User reviews

LibraryThing member joyceBl
The book Dodgers is a sad account of a young boy who due to circumstances bigger than he, must reinvent himself. Born in Southeast LA and struggling to survive with an addicted mother, no father, and a younger brother who cares nothing for life, nothing for anything except the law of the drug business in his neighborhood, East is the lookout for a drug house. It is apparent that although he can do his job, which is running a crew of lookouts, he doesn’t have the stomach for the brutal side of the drug business. Ordered to go to Wisconsin to kill a judge who is a witness to the drug gang’s leader illegal actions, East finds himself in new environments surrounded by kinds of people he has never seen before. He finds this new world intriguing, but recognizes that he doesn’t fit in. It is not only the color of his skin, but the alien nature of the world outside of LA that leaves him rootless. The reader is left with the feeling that East will persist in trying to find a new way of living, but that the pull of the old life may not allow it.… (more)
LibraryThing member mtbearded1
It says a lot to me when an author can take a distasteful subject and characters with whom the reader has no connection, and make the reader care about those same characters. This story can be divided into three sections, in three vastly different parts of the country, and with three vastly different story lines, yet it all holds together beautifully. The young protagonist, known to everyone as East (or to some as Easy), is a young (15 year old), black gang member whose job in the opening section of the book is to guard a house where addicts come to get their regular fix. On the day the story opens, East is witness to a police raid of the house he is "guarding" and also witness to the death of a young black girl who gets caught in the crossfire of the raid. The image of the girl's death stays with him through the rest of the book. Part two takes East out of his Los Angeles neighborhood on a cross-country road trip with three other young, black men, headed to Wisconsin with instructions to kill a man who will be testifying against the head of East's gang. In classic Bildungsroman style, (and make no mistake, this is definitely a Bildungsroman, or "coming-of-age" story), everything that can go wrong, does, and by the time the group is ready to return home to Los Angeles, only two of the original four remain. When East's comrade Walter decides he wants to fly home, East is faced with the question as to what he should do next himself. In the third section of the book, he heads further east, rather than west, and starts to build a new life for himself in rural Ohio. To tell more would be to give away much of the powerful suspense of the book, but suffice it to say that there is plenty of suspense throughout the story, and the reader closes the book wondering what is going to happen next in East's life. This reader is neither black, nor a gang member, nor involved in any way in criminal activities, but even so I was hooked on the story and caught up in East's life, hoping that he would survive the direst of situations he faces in this novel. I believe this is Beverly's first novel (he teaches American Literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington, D.C.), and it's a masterpiece. I certainly hope we have more coming from his pen. Highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member EBT1002
This is a great literary crime novel that starts with 15-year-old African American Los Angeles gang member Easton witnessing police shutting down the house (crack house) for which he "works yard." In the melee, a young girl is caught in the crossfire, leaving an indelible scar on Easton's heart. East's uncle, Fin, is the boss of the business; Fin sends East, his younger brother Ty, and two other young gang members on a road trip to Wisconsin to murder a witness who is scheduled to testify in an upcoming trial. This sounds contrived, and perhaps it is, but the road trip develops into an honest coming-of-age story in which East meets and pushes his own limits and begins to find himself in the unlikeliest of places. The pacing of the novel is perfect: it's not a persistently thriller-paced novel with the singleminded goal of raising your heart rate. Oh, your heart rate should go up a time or two but interspersed with this edge-of-the-seat narrative is a thoughtful and compelling exploration of loyalty, choice-making, and the brutal art of growing up. I silently cheered at the ending. This required a conscious reminder not to let my internal cynic override the joy but, with that single caveat, this novel is highly recommended.… (more)
LibraryThing member aimless22
A riveting coming-of-age novel focused on fifteen-year-old East and his life as a gang member in a Los Angeles neighborhood known as The Boxes. East is a watcher at one of the drug houses his uncle, Fin, runs. One day the police raid the house and East is afraid that he failed at his job, or at least that his crew failed and that reflects on him.
His uncle gives him a new job that involves traveling across the country to Wisconsin with three other boys, one of which is his dangerous younger half-brother Ty.
There is a plan, but as with most plans, things go off track. First in Las Vegas, then in Nebraska, then in Wisconsin.

The novel is divided into three sections:
Th Boxes - Short section introducing us to East and his life in LA. This section includes the raid.
The Van - Lengthiest section about the journey across the country with Walter, Michael, and Ty. Each character fills a role and these roles are well displayed through the ride.
Ohio - Last section about East's time after the debacle in Wisconsin. He is apart from the gang, hiding out in a nothing town. Working at a paintball range.

With terse sentences and tight dialogue, Mr. Beverly provides a luminous view into East and the boys and men who surround him.
Wonderfully written and well-paced.
While I may not want to live in East's world, I can relate to many of his soul searching inner thoughts.
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LibraryThing member Hagelstein
Easton, known as East, is a fifteen year-old drug house guard in a Los Angeles ghetto. (At one point he describes his work experience to a prospective employer as “security.”) When the house he has “watched” from midnight to noon for the past two years is raided he is sent with three others – one of whom is his thirteen year-old brother - to kill a judge in Wisconsin. East has never been outside of L.A., has barely left his own neighborhood.

The journey, the task and its aftermath are the catalysts for East to experience life totally foreign to him. Although he has no revelations or sudden changes of heart, East does grow and makes a few decisions that alter his path.

This is strong, readable book that echoes Richard Price’s “Clockers” in the beginning, but soon carves out its own story.
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LibraryThing member kellifrobinson
This a fantastic literary crime novel. Was not sure what Donald Ray Pollock meant by that genre in his cover blurb but once you've read Dodgers, you will understand completely what that means. Incredible writing, memorable characters, tense and funny and otherworldly in a strange way. A rare opportunity to crawl inside a world foreign to me and to witness life through a different lens - fascinating and definitely worth the time and attention. I expect big things for this wonderful novel.… (more)
LibraryThing member Vicki_Weisfeld
A modern crime classic in the tradition of Richard Price’s Clockers, Dodgers is the story of a youthful soldier in the south Los Angeles drug trade. East, a black 16-year-old, is a yardman for a drug house, which means he runs a team of younger boys who look out for approaching trouble, 24 hours a day. Somehow, trouble slips past them, and when the police converge on the house, sirens shrieking, East narrowly escapes. But before he flees, the curious younger girl who has approached him is caught in the crossfire and dies before his eyes, an innocent whose death he cannot shake.
After the raid, of course, the house is compromised, and the drug lord gives East a new assignment. He and three others are to drive to Wisconsin and kill a man about to testify in Los Angeles against one of the gang leaders. In the great American tradition of road trips, East heads east on a fateful journey with an ill-assorted group of companions: Michael Wilson, a self-assured, one-time UCLA student who thinks he’s by far the intellectual superior of the other boys; Walter, an overweight age-peer of East’s with an aptitude for electronic crime and a greater understanding of the big picture; and, unexpectedly, East’s younger brother Ty, a stone killer at age 13 whose internal dynamics East cannot begin to comprehend.
The interactions among the four are full of youthful wit and jockeying for position, even though the outcome of the journey is uncertain and potentially catastrophic. The last piece of advice they receive before leaving LA? “Don’t make no friends.”
The book takes its title from the boys’ purchases at the sports apparel store they visit before their departure. There they purchase shirts and caps emblazoned with the logos of the Los Angeles Dodgers, not because East or the others have ever cared about the team personally, but because “White people love baseball. White people love the Dodgers.”
The trip across America and the notice four young black men arouse among the residents of the middle-America states—and the fear of the notice they may arouse—are significant and compelling features of the plot. The nuanced depiction of East’s mental state makes for a rich and engaging reader experience.
Beverly is a teacher of American literature and writing at Trinity University in Washington, D.C., and the quality of his writing is a great strength of the book. Take this simple description: “There was a gas station. The lights in the cold made the cars gleam like licked suckers.” Any author who can conjure up an image like that deserves to be savored.
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LibraryThing member mclane
This is a wonderful first novel! It combines noir fiction, a road trip, sibling rivalry (at its extreme!), murder and possible redemption. As the story opens, we meet East (Easton), a 15 year old African American who works "security" guarding a drug house in LA, which is one of several run by his uncle and his associates. Within a few pages, the house is raided by the police, and East is sent on a trip across the country to murder a black judge who might serve as a witness against his uncle. He is accompanied by three other young black men, including his 13 year old brother, who is to serve as the actual hit man. The story is told primarily from East's point of view, and combines violence, suspense and (surprisingly) humor. We watch as East, who has never been out of LA, travels across America and has his vision of himself and his possible futures change and expand. This is a suspenseful, thoughtful, carefully plotted work of literature. I recommend it highly.… (more)
LibraryThing member Felliot
Dodgers is the hauntingly powerful story of East, a sixteen-year-old member of a Los Angeles gang, whose job is to stand guard at a drug house in South L.A. When East's uncle sends him and three other teenage boys – including his hotheaded younger brother, Ty – to kill a key witness hiding in Wisconsin, he embarks on a fateful journey that will take him out of the only city he's ever known to an America that is entirely alien to him. – from the publisher.

To call Dodgers a crime novel does a disservice to the book and misleads the potential reader. Almost all of the characters in the book are gang members, so there should be no surprise that there are many crimes committed throughout the story. To focus on any one of them is to miss the point. At its core, Dodgers is a combination coming-of-age story, a road trip adventure, and most importantly, a journey of self-discovery. The book starts with East agreeing to take on a job that will take him across the country in order to atone for a wrong in his own back yard that was not his fault. It ends with him facing a future that is entirely his own making.

The first few pages of any novel are critical for both the author and the reader. Can the author establish the time, place, and characters fast and clear enough for the reader to be interested enough to keep reading? Most books take a chapter or two to answer this question. Beverly's prose is so tight, his voice so powerful that it takes him only a couple of pages to completely hook the reader. East is such a compelling character that you can not help but want to ride along with him on his journey. If this is what Beverly can do in his first book, I can not wait to find out what he creates in the future.
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LibraryThing member gmmartz
I cannot praise Dodgers highly enough. This novel by Bill Beverly has everything: a great story, top-notch writing and dialogue, wonderful character development, and a clever conclusion. I've heard Beverly's writing being compared to Richard Price's (among others) and I think it's pretty apt. His ability to write in the dialect of his characters, to communicate the grit, and to make you almost feel like you're eavesdropping is superb.

I'll try to avoid getting into too much detail on the plot. In short, an inner city LA youth supervising the boys guarding a drug house somehow lets a drug raid by the police occur. To get out of trouble with the big boss, he, along with his sociopathic younger brother and a couple other guys, is sent to the Midwest to murder a witness involved in a court proceeding with the boss. The remainder of the book addresses their journey via van, the interaction of the 4 participants, the killing, and the aftermath. To say any more than that would spoil the pleasure you'll get from getting to know the players and following them on their trip.

One indicator, at least to me, of good writing and character development is when you find yourself caring about a person who is 'bad'. I'm pretty sure you'll feel that way about at least one of the Dodger characters. I highly recommend this novel, my favorite of 2016 so far.
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LibraryThing member bookaholicgirl
Dodgers is the story of East, a 16 year old member of an LA gang whose job is to stand guard at a drug house in South LA. He, along with three other boys, gets sent to Wisconsin to kill a witness.
This book was well written with stark prose and wonderful characters. It is a wonderful coming of age story.… (more)
LibraryThing member atticusfinch1048
Dodgers – A Brilliant Debut Novel

Dodgers is my standout debut thriller of the year that will take your breath away, this is the literary world’s The Wire. Usually when I see the words literary crime thriller I tend to shudder, as the story is neither one nor the other but falls between the two. Dodgers has made me question my understanding of literary crime as it delivers on so many levels, it is as addictive as crack cocaine!

Dodgers follows the story of East, a drug gangs house lookout at a crack den in The Boxes in Los Angeles, he is fifteen and knows what he is doing. But things go wrong when a police raid takes place and a young girl is shot, he thinks he will be held responsible by Fin the gang leader and dealt with. What he is told instead is that he is going across country as part of a hit squad on a judge who is hiding out in Wisconsin.

Fin has assembled a four man team, which includes East and his thirteen year old half-brother, Ty, who speaks little but loves guns. There is Walter who may be larger than life but he is an intelligent teenager and Michael the eldest of them who is there as the sensible person to stop them killing each other. They are given a van that looks nothing special, but looks can be deceiving, and this is the beginning of a long road trip, especially as East has never been out of LA.

The journey from LA to Wisconsin is not without incident, and also helps East to grow and see things he has never encountered before. Through East’s eyes we see a world as he sees it, malfunctioning, that needs to be closely observed, that seems inescapable to him, he feels he is stuck in his punishing world.

I loved the way in which the decisions that each of the characters make throughout the book shows that they can be at odds with each other, but are loyal foot soldiers to the cause. They also discover that their impulses and split second decision making will either doom them or save them. East especially is on a voyage of discovery and what sort of young man he wants to become. The characters in this book are remarkable, flawed and believable, all out to become someone else.

Dodgers is one of the most enjoyable crime thrillers I have read in a while, for a debut it is flawless and shows us what an exciting talent the literary world has in Bill Beverly. The prose Beverly uses is engaging and colourful, descriptive and expressive, all of which draws you further in to the story, with some wonderful imagery, being the back drop and colours of America.

I believe I have read a literary crime thriller that will sit alongside many of the classics in years to come, and rightly hold its own.
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LibraryThing member JSBancroft
The cross country trip in which the protagonist discovers who he is and where he fits in the world is a classic storytelling device. Here, the theme is made new by making the protagonist, East, a minor player in a drug ring who has never left his South Central LA neighborhood. East must drive across the country to kill a potential witness against the drug kingpin. East's unfamiliarity with the rural, small-town landscape in which he finds himself mirrors the reader's unfamiliarity with East's lack of family, education, or hope for the future. The characters, plot, and settings are not those I would normally want to read about. But author Bill Beverly has created such a gripping story that I could not put the book down.… (more)
LibraryThing member Dannadee
A story about Easy, aka East, a 15 year old gang member who is told that he and 3 others are to drive to a little town in Wisconsin to kill a judge. They are all as different as night and day, including his younger half brother, Ty. East is a rule follower and tries to keep everyone on course, which is no easy task. There are problems that crop up all along the route and we see how East handles each one, wondering if this is the right thing to do. But like I said, he always does what he is told. The tale is certainly different than what I'm used to reading but the author did a nice job of keeping me interested, if not invested, in the characters.
A nice debut novel. I won this through LibraryThing Giveaways - Thank You! 3.7 stars rounded up.
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LibraryThing member SamSattler
When I began reading Bill Beverly’s Dodgers I was expecting a story somewhere along the lines of the popular HBO series The Wire, a television series that captured my imagination for several years running. And early on, the Dodgers plotline involving inner city (Los Angeles this time, instead of Baltimore) kids working for an older, ruthless drug lord did very much resemble The Wire. But all of that changed when fifteen-year-old East, his younger brother, and two other young blacks set out on a road trip to Wisconsin, of all places, to kill a key witness who is prepared to testify against their boss in an upcoming trial. Suddenly, I was reading one of the strangest coming-of-age novels I have ever run across.

East is one of the most street-savvy kids in his world. At fifteen, he is already running a crew and is in charge of his own “house,” one of several drug dens his boss runs in their South Central Los Angeles neighborhood. Even though he no longer lives at home, much preferring the privacy of sleeping in an abandoned building to sleeping in his old bedroom, East feels responsible for his drug-addled mother and provides her with enough money to survive – even though he knows where most of his cash goes.

But Wisconsin may as well be located in a foreign country for all East knows about it, so when he learns that the two older boys in the minivan with him and his brother have seen more of the world than just Los Angeles he is willing to sit back in the middle row of seats and enjoy the view he sees out the side windows. And for a few hundred miles, and a few hours, all goes well. Then personalities begin to clash, the expense money in their pockets begins to tempt one or two of the boys to behave rashly, and it starts to look like they will be arrested long before they reach Wisconsin where their target awaits them.

Each of the boys in the minivan has been chosen because of a particular skill they have that will contribute to the success of their mission. But, as East soon recognizes, the strength of the overall team turns out to be far less than the sum of its individual parts – and that places all of them, and their mission, in grave jeopardy unless someone steps in to make drastic changes. Is East the man to make those changes? Does he even want the job anymore, or has he been so changed by what he’s experienced in his travels that now he wants more from life than the likelihood of an early death or decades spent behind prison bars? Even East can’t answer that one – yet.

Bill Beverly’s novel is a beautifully written one filled with memorable characters caught up in a situation well beyond what any of them have ever experienced in their short lives. Dodgers is, in fact, a remarkable debut that clearly marks Beverly as someone to watch for in 2017. It is that good.

(Review Copy provided by Publisher)
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LibraryThing member jnwelch
Why the foolish requirement to wear Dodger caps and shirts on their cross-country trip?

"I don't disagree," sighed Johnny. "What can I say? White people love baseball. White people love the Dodgers."

"What do I care what white people like?"

"Boy", Johnny said, "the world is made of white people. So you just pick out a nice hat."

Here's one with a teenage protagonist that will never be considered YA. 16 year old East is a watcher for an LA drug house, heading a team that looks out for any trouble. When hordes of police descend without warning, he's not blamed, but is expected to redeem himself by joining three other gang members on a cross-country trip with murder as its goal. He's joined by his wild younger brother Ty, overweight Walter who has some education and knows tech, and Michael, the oldest but least disciplined.

Despite his age, East is the most mature of all of them, and is expected to keep the team out of trouble and on task. "{T}hey respected him, for though he was young, he had none in him of what they hated most in themselves: their childishness. He had never been a child."

With new identities, they drive from LA to Wisconsin, experiencing a world previously unknown to the younger boys, sometimes puzzling, sometimes dangerous. What East has to do to maintain order is sometimes simple and sometimes complex. Despite the circumstances he is in, he has an innate decency and reluctance to harm, kill or steal unless there is no other choice.

The cover calls this a "crime novel", and that is true. But it is East, wise beyond his years, yet still an inexperienced boy, who pulls the reader through the pages. East, and the believable, ring true dialog, keep the pages zipping along. This is a surprisingly accomplished first novel that deserves the accolades it has been getting, and a romping good read to boot.… (more)
LibraryThing member lriley
Great book. 4 gang kids who've never been outside LA are sent on a mission to murder a judge in Wisconsin. The book is pretty much a dissociative narrative from start to finish mainly seen through the eyes of East. Outside the narrow confines of his life on the street the rest of the country is an alien landscape peopled by absolute strangers and they have to buy a gun from one of them. Calling it a crime novel kind of misses the point. It's more a coming of age and learning to cope with what comes along kind of novel--or a bit of chaos theory in action. As characters go I particularly liked how Beverly developed East's menacing little brother--14 year old Ty--who actually is the one who carries out the murder. Anyway I liked it a lot--thought the plot was moving and intriguing and I think the writer finished the novel off very well. I'd be interested in reading more of his work when they become available. At least for me this book was very entertaining.… (more)
LibraryThing member lisan.
This was a book that I couldn't figure out until it was over. I truly enjoyed it, but I wonder if it might be too slow paced for most people. This began as a crime novel, then evolved into a road trip story, then slowly turned into a coming of age tale. At first it felt like slow going, even though the action begins right away. East, a young man working in the drug trade in the ghettos of Los Angeles has his world turned upside down when the police raid the house he's supposed to be guarding. Though this should signal the end of his career, and his life in the neighborhood, his uncle gives him another chance by giving him the job of killing a witness in hiding in Wisconsin, setting East off on an adventure with his loner, street-wise younger brother, and two other men working for the drug dealers.

It sounds like a cut and dried story -- except it's not. The events and circumstances change drastically from chapter to chapter, and I honestly never knew what was coming, and found myself truly shocked at certain points. The abrupt shifts in the story never felt confusing or clumsy. The characters have obviously placed themselves in a dangerous situation they have little control over, and they are all well aware of it. Every decision is a bad one, and therefore the story could go any way. I liked what the author did with the fates of the characters, especially at the end of the book.

The author also presented very interesting viewpoints of East, the main character. Many stories that tell a story from one point of view often don't give us a true picture of what that person looks like to the rest of the world. I found myself reconsidering my viewpoint of East after hearing the reflections of the other characters. In a way it made the ending even better. Just when I thought I knew East pretty well, it turned out I didn't.
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LibraryThing member mabroms
Bill Beverly does an excellent job of capturing the reality and insanity of life on the streets in an age of hopelessness.

“Dodgers” is all about the parallel universe that most Americans do their very best to avoid. It depicts a world of dope dealers and addicts, the homeless living on the streets or worse, the world of rampant gun violence that kills both the guilty and the innocent.

East is the main carrier of this story. Some will call this a coming of age story. They would be wrong. East came of age a long time ago – with a father that he never knew, and a mother who is not capable of leaving her bed, much less supporting her children. East was never a child; he grew up as soon as he could walk.

Beverly is a solid writer. His dialogue is spot on. These street kids, and the adults that guide them, use a special cadence that Beverly captures vividly. You learn about what matters bit-by-bit because you need to know to survive.

“Dodgers” is not without hope. While anyone looking for a "happily ever after" ending will be sorely disappointed, East’s evolution over the course of the novel points in a direction that makes sense in the context of plausibility.

“Dodgers” is a welcome addition for readers interested in the reality of life on the streets in 21st Century America.

Thanks to Crown Publishing Group and LibraryThing for the ARC.
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LibraryThing member velopunk
East and his troubled brother Ty are sent with two other young gang members to Wisconsin to assassinate a judge who is in witness protection and will be testifying against a gang leader. None of the gang members have ever been out of the greater Los Angeles area before. They are given a minivan and outfitted with Dodger T-shirts and sent on their way. East is the presumptive leader but quiet, smoldering Ty is a ticking timebomb. East seems to want a different life from the one of crime that he has fallen into. One of the gang members is cut loose somewhere between the Rockies and the mid-west. The three remaining boys proceed to Wisconsin and the target judge. He is dispensed with and in the process of escaping East turns on his brother and shoots Ty as he is about to kill a man in a carjacking attempt. East and the other boy start back to L.A. but separate in Iowa as the other boy, Walter, flies back. East heads in an easterly direction in an attempt to flee gang life. He ends up in Ohio where he obtains a job in a paint-ball business. The gang sends Ty back to contact East. Ty had been shot by East but had not died. East is told that he has a week to return to L.A. and resume gang life. He takes the car that Ty left him and takes off for points unknown determined not to go back, even though he has been warned that he must come back. A sequel would be warranted. I hope East makes it out of the life.… (more)
LibraryThing member addicted2harleys
I have never read a book like Dodgers before. I am truly glad that I decided to request a copy of it. This was an excellent read, for sure!

Born an raised under unfortunate circumstances, East falls in with with the drug business in his neighborhood. East's job is running a group of lookouts for a drug house. He has no problem doing his job...but then he is ordered to travel to Wisconsin (he lives in LA) to kill a judge who is a witness to the leader's illegal dealings. This task doesn't sit well with East.

Through his travel to Wisconsin, East sees how other people live and is quite intrigued. Yet he feels like an outsider and realizes that he doesn't fit in in any kind of life outside of East LA.

As East persists in trying to find a new kind of life for himself, his old life and all he has ever known seems to pull him back in...
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LibraryThing member AnneWK
So many missed opportunities for exciting, suspenseful moments in this book. Four teenagers are sent by their LA gang to drive to Wisconsin and kill a witness The main character is 15-yr-old East who has never left LA in his life. I rooted for East but I never really worried about him, even when the boys were in tight spots along the way.… (more)
LibraryThing member ecataldi
Gritty, raw, and almost unbelievable. An urban coming of age tale that features several young black teenagers from the LA ghetto driving cross country to murder a judge for their boss. Their crew rolls four deep; East, the most level headed and obedient (also the story's protagonist), Michael, the oldest, yet least responsible, Walter, a fat geek, and Ty, East's younger hot headed brother. Together they must drive from California to Michigan, avoid getting busted by cops and somehow not murder each other on the way. Beautifully written and masterfully told this book will have wide appeal. Fast paced, and filled with strong, unforgettable characters this is one of the best debuts of the year.

I received this book for free from Library Thing in return for my honest, unbiased review.
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LibraryThing member bnbookgirl
The first half of this book bored me to tears and I wasn't going to finish it. Seeing as it was an early review copy, I soldiered on. The second half of the book was much better. I became vested in the story at that part. The characters are really not likeable at all, young gangbangers on the road to kill someone. The characters are really not all that memorable either. Sometimes you can not like a character, but they stick with you. Not so with this group of guys. There were a few twists to the second half that kept my attention, but overall, I am not a fan.… (more)
LibraryThing member PaperDollLady
A book presented in three parts, somewhat like a three-act play.

Part one -- "The Boxes," a neighborhood in LA where the story opens.

It begins with a brief bit of stage setting, so it took a page or two for me to get my bearings. However, once the main character, East, was established I found myself hooked. It's his POV and thoughts that made me want to follow along on his journey. There's good and bad in all, and East is good at what he does in a bad, bad business. He's a leader, running an outside crew of lookouts who keep an eye out on a drug house for the ring's boss, Fin. East is young, only fifteen, but learns by observation and speaks his mind only after thinking. Which proves him intelligent, not just street-smart. Early on in the first chapter, things go wrong and an innocent girl gets killed in the middle of a police raid on the house East and his crew are in charge of watching. Perhaps as retribution, Fin sends East on a mission, a road trip with three others -- Michael Wilson, Walter, a fat teen, and East's unpredictable thirteen-year-old brother, Ty -- a gunner. Given all things necessary to go undetected by the authorities -- fake IDs, van, license plates, and new wardrobe with LA team, Dodgers, t-shirts to wear -- they're sent off to kill a man (a judge) now hiding in Wisconsin who's a prosecution witness against Fin's organization.

Part Two -- "The Van," the road trip to Wisconsin.

After a brief unexpected stopover in Las Vegas, where the others ignore East's cautions, things don't go well. Along the route there's even more bickering and squabbling, upping the tension and suspense. With Fin's money to buy illegal guns, they've a pre-planned stop and this connection goes crazy. As do other fast-paced happenings, though to tell more here would give too much away.

Part three -- "Ohio," East on his own.

A journey is not just distance covered, it's also the experiences that brings its traveler to his destination. East barely survives in a man vs. nature fight in Ohio, where he is still haunted by the faces of the dead and innocent. Here he's lucky enough to find work and get help from some good people, but his story's end holds a surprise.

I requested this book from LTER because I like reading teen fiction and coming-of-age stories. There seemed a bit of inconsistency towards the story's end with what occurred in the "Ohio" part, where many things happened in such a short span of time. And the young age of the two brothers felt a bit of a stretch. Though perhaps not a YA book, and more along the lines of New Adult or Adult/Crime genre with a literary bent, DODGERS, with its intriguing plot -- and captivating prose -- is a worthwhile read.
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