Purchase: Amazon, B&N
News: George Pelecanos picks YJ as a Best Book of 2010
Fourteen-year-old Junius Posey pushes weed for a small-time neighborhood dealer–a low rung on the ladder of the gangster life surrounding him. But when his older brother is shot dead, Junius grips a gun for the first time and starts climbing.
Flanked by his best friend, Junius sets his sights on the Rindge Towers, a low-income high-rise looming over the cold streets of Cambridge, Massachusetts–and lorded over by rival drug kingpins. When one of the Towers’ men draws down on him, Junius is forced to rack up his first kill–and face the hell that breaks loose.
Now, with a vicious, crack-addicted enforcer bent on paying Junius back in lead, even his mother thinks his best play is to skip town and lie low…maybe forever.
Set in 1987, Harwood’s searing look at doomed youth chronicles a few pivotal days in the life of 14-year-old Junius Posey, a captive of poverty, ignorance, and misguided social programming in the Rindge Towers, a drug-ridden Cambridge, Mass., housing project. Beginning with his older brother Temple’s funeral, Junius’s extended quest to wreak vengeance on Temple’s killer and make himself a power in his ’hood results in a vicious black comedy of murderous errors. Harwood (Jack Wakes Up) pulls no punches, revealing not only the white death of crack cocaine but the ineffectuality of black liberals who believe their Harvard Law books can cure the malignancy inherent in “forgotten civic ideas” like the Towers and the desire of the Towers’ inhabitants to destroy anyone trying to escape. In the end, Junius’s fate is as old as Aeschylus, the endless cycle of killing “just a snake eating itself.” –Publisher’s Weekly
After his older brother is gunned down, six-foot-three-inch, 14-year-old Junius sets his heart on vengeance and makes for the Rindge Towers, a three-building slum uneasily shared by two rival pushers. What starts as a narrative limited to the point-of-view of the remorseless teen widens—and widens and widens—until it encompasses a huge cast of characters, including kids, cops, and a legion of small-time thugs. Harwood’s cutaway view of a single bloody day in a housing project is an impressive feat, undercut only by the sameness of some of the warriors, who come fast and furious with names like Big Pickup, Black Jesus, and Seven Heaven. Despite these monikers, there’s nothing cartoonish about the story, which powers forward with a blunt and violent vulgarity: “He pushed the door open and headed out to see what the fuck.” There is a mystery here—who really pulled the trigger on Junius’ bro?—but the point is clearly the bad-versus-worse decisions brought on by bloodlust. Given the characters’ brutality, Harwood’s empathy runs deeply indeed. –Booklist
YOUNG JUNIUS (Tyrus) is an urban western by Seth Harwood. Junius is a 14 year old on his own quest for vengeance and redemption. What looks from the outset to be a simple matter of track and shoot soon spirals out of control. With police and rival gangs out to get him Junius decides to stand instead of run and when all is said and done, his life is much different than when he started this path. Harwood has really captured the angst of a young man confused by what the world tells him and what the world is. Required reading. –Crimespree Magazine
Purchase: Amazon, B&N