Patches of Grey by Roy L. Pickering Jr.

August 25, 2016
Roy L. Pickering Jr., Book Review, Patches of Grey, InToriLex
Published By: M.U.D. House Books on January 8, 2010
Format Read: Paperback (329 pages)
Genre: Contemporary/ Romance / African American Experience
Series: Standalone
Source: Author Request
Patches Of Grey
Tony Johnson is a studious young man planning to soon graduate from much more than high school. Although his zip code places him in a Bronx tenement pre "rise of Obama", his sights are set far beyond the trappings of a humble upbringing. Collegiate dreams combined with falling in love with a white classmate put him strongly at odds with his father. He incurs Lionel Johnson's wrath for the sins of ambition and daring to be with Janet Mitchell. Seeing unrealized goals reincarnated in the eyes of his eldest son remind Lionel of what once could have been, and of what went wrong. His own upbringing in a segregated town established a bitter, prejudiced outlook that is the only legacy he has to pass down to his children. When his job and role as primary breadwinner are lost, Lionel's authority erodes and he drowns disappointment one drink at a time. This affords Tony an opportunity to assert independence rather than allowing history to repeat itself and his fate to be set by chance and circumstance. Throughout the course of a tumultuous year, Tony comes to learn that the world is not as black and white as he and his father's opposing mindsets would suggest.


I enjoyed reading this book immensely.  I was engaged the entire time and looked forward to learning more about the characters lives. Tony Johnson is a relateable and memorable protagonist, who learns alot about who he is and who he wants to be. The Johnson family faces many hardships financially, mentally, emotionally and physically. They all have to live in our society where being black means you are constantly figuring out how to deal with racism and the effect that is has on your life. Each member of the Johnson family has to grapple with some harsh choices and realities, they weave together well to create an engaging narrative. The good writing, and well developed characters were refreshing.
"I could have five PHD's, but that wouldn't change nothing. I could click my heels and think good thoughts all day ling, but they'll still see me as a nigger. You're my son, so how do you think they see you?"
Beyond the important experiences and situations described, the author does take time to explore some deep seated psychological pain. Tony's father Lionel is a case study of what happens when you let the fear of failure hold you back and eat you from the inside out. Tony also faces some hard realizations because he's growing into a man and realizing how much of life is not black and white. The humor was well timed and the commentary thrown in that never felt preachy or forced. The flow of the story was great and didn't shy away from hard truth's.
"Whether in times of feast or of famine, it could be counted on that times would change. God was a good name to call the fickle nature of fate as any."
I'm starting to read more Contemporary's and this reminded me to branch out into genre's I don't usually read. This is more then just a narrative about black experience, its a gem because of it's well developed discussion of race. The only thing I didn't enjoy fully was the ending, I wanted a more concrete ending for the Johnson family.  I enjoy learning what happens to the characters fictional or not, I feel invested. It has something for everyone and I shed some tears during some emotionally trying moments. Despite the ending I can recommend this book to everyone without reservations.


Roy Pickering was born on the idyllic island of St. Thomas and currently resides in a quaint New Jersey town with his wife and daughter. His debut novel Patches of Grey is published by M.U.D. House Books. His novella Feeding the Squirrels is published in electronic format by SynergEbooks - http://www.synergebooks.com/ebook_fee...Patches of Grey was named a 2012 B.R.A.G. Medallion Honoree

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