Archive | 10:55 AM

Book Review: Dodgers by Bill Beverly (3/5)

11 Apr

Based on the title of this one, I had no idea what to expect. Draft Dodgers? That had been my best guess. I never expected LA Dodgers, nor why that city would be significant. It was a joy to discover this book as it happened instead of reading the blurb. I had no idea what was coming.

Dodgers by Bill Beverly

Summary from Goodreads:

Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.

There were multiple times in this book where I was shocked at the decisions the characters made. Not because they were out of character, but because they reinforced how different the characters were from me. East surprised me at every turn and I wanted to wrap him into a hug and tell him it would be OK, even though it probably wouldn’t be. He was very strong and resilient and I rooted for him the whole time.

I liked how different each of the boys was. Ty and East were dichotomies but adding in Michael Wilson and Walter rounded out the team. I believed all of them, though it was hard to believe they were all so young. It’s crazy to think a boy Ty’s age was part of a crime mob.

Besides Easy, Walter was my favorite character. I thought he was smart but also realistic. He seemed to hold the team together to me and I liked how he tried to help East when he could. He seemed to realize Ty and East had a very strange relationship and didn’t try to get in the middle of it but also didn’t assume they were close because they were blood.

These characters were so different from myself that I couldn’t relate to them and that made the story more fun for me. I’ve never been sent across state lines to kill someone and I’ve never walked across Ohio until I found a job that didn’t do a background check. Hearing about the measures East took to survive amazed me. The places he slept, things he stole, and what he ate were amazing to me. It’s hard to imagine certain levels of poverty if you don’t see them first hand.

Bill Beverly
Image via Twitter

East’s time in Ohio was my favorite. He was doing a lot of self-reflecting but the work he was doing was also similar to his old life. The guns just didn’t kill people. It was reassuring to see he was good at something besides being a gangster if he just tried. I started to believe in him and was glad he saw he wasn’t a lost cause. Maybe it’s my aversion to violence that made me like this part of the book.

The time in Wisconsin was my least favorite. I hated Ty’s character and that section was a lot about Ty. I couldn’t understand Ty nor his motivation so he frustrated me. I was glad when he was left, to be honest. It wasn’t the best of circumstances (trying to be spoiler free…) but I was relieved that the edge was gone. Walter and East could relax a little.

My audiobook was narrated by J.D. Jackson. I thought he did a really good job. His voices were subtly different so it wasn’t distracting. He also gave the right amount of gravitas to scenes that deserved it. His narration wasn’t distracting which made it enjoyable for me.

East was given an identity because of his relation to Fin. He was a yard boy and he did what Fin asked. But he got to learn that he could be something more. That he could forge his own path, find other people who would care about him, and make something of himself. He grew to believe in himself and what he could do. He grew to respect himself and have others respect him.

Writer’s Takeaway: Beverly created a very realistic view of poverty that was beyond anything I’ve ever imagined. I see those who are struggling in my city, but that doesn’t mean I understand the desperation that they might face. I don’t see the reasons why someone might get into drugs or why they might kill someone. It’s hard to picture what drives someone as young as Ty and East to be part of something so dangerous. But this book helped. It’s clear Beverly has some contact with this level of poverty or exposed himself to it for this book. Kudos to him.

I enjoyed this book but at the same time, the second half of it was a little flat for me. Three out of Five Stars

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Q & A #62- Bill Beverly, “Dodgers” | Don’t Need a Diagram
Book Review: Dodgers- Bill Beverly (Guest Review) | Beverly Has Read
Review: Dodgers by Bill Beverly | Baking Thad Books
Review of Dodgers by Bill Beverly | Stephanie