Sunday, July 15, 2012

Say Nice Things About Detroit - Review (kind of)

Title: Say Nice Things About Detroit
Author: Scott Lasser
Source: Library

Goodreads Summary:

Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie 's sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn't seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie 's death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?

My thoughts:

I had to put this book down and walk away.  I had high hopes for this book, being a Detroit area resident (I won't lie, I don't live within the city, but south of it.).  Growing up, Detroit is the big city, the city my parent's used to go to, the one I started exploring when I got old enough to drive myself there, where I frequent now.  It is the city my grandfather used to drive my four year old brother around, showing him the sights, especially Belle Isle.   My husband is from the actual city, and his family still lives there, and I visit them as well, and know some of the neighborhoods.  A few of my friends are also real Detroit residents, as is my stepsister.  I grew up with the horror stories about Detroit and the good stories too.  

So I had expectations of this book, because of the title.  However, the book was so downtrodden, depressing, nothing good could happen.  Nothing good was happening.  13 year olds on drugs, steel workers with cancer, infidelity, dementia to name a few character storylines. The title itself seems to come from a tshirt someone in the book was wearing - a guy holding a gun to the head of a puppy, and the writing was "Say Nice Things About Detroit", the implication being if you didn't he would kill the puppy.   I just felt it perpetuated the beliefs about Detroit, focused only on the bad.  The violence and despair.  I was really hoping for a fresh take on the city, and I didn't get it.  

Since I didn't finish, maybe the book ended with a positive spin on Detroit.  I don't know.  But from what I read, it's just another slam on the city. I don't believe Detroit is all bad, but like all cities, it has its ups and downs.  Maybe I will give it another shot in the future, but as it stands now, I don't need to.

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