I know it’s December and not the usual time of year for talking about beach books, but if you’re lucky enough to be heading out for a holiday cruise or a beach vacation you’ll want to take SAG HARBOR with you.
But be prepared…Colson Whitehead’s SAG HARBOR is not your average beach book. It’s better. It’s not a mushy gushy romance or an action packed thriller. Instead SAG HARBOR is a wonderfully lazy day at the beach. The kind where the sun is hot, but the breeze keeps you cool and you can alternate between dozing off and reading.
The book is a novel that feels very much like a memoir. It is the story of Benji’s (call me Ben) 15 year old summer at Sag Harbor. It’s not a dramatic summer (though the BB incident was a little icky terrifying) or a coming of age story, really. It is just what it is – an exploration into the head of (and behind the braces of) a young upper middle class black kid growing up in the 80s.
For me the book is not a racial statement of any kind. It is not saying that people should think this way or that. It is just that being black is as much a part of Benji as being male is. His story could not be told without it. But yet for me I could relate Benji’s bad Afro and the fact that everyone else just let him walk around that way – to my own too short bangs or ridiculous outfit choices. I could relate to his worries that everyone knew (and cared) what was going on behind closed doors at his house. And I could relate to his worries about each word he said and each item of clothing he wore. 15 is that kind of time.
And talk about nostalgia. Oh the 80’s. Before cell phones and worry wart parents. Before the internet and gaming and kids spending all day staring at a screen. Remember when what radio station you listened to actually mattered? (It’s okay to like Lite FM Benji – I’ll never tell).
In a way, the more things change, the more they stay the same. The teenage angst and the antics Benji and his friends get up are timeless.
This book just makes me want to dig out my old journals from high school and reminisce. Remember that time when…