Tag Archives: Bill Beverly

Book Club Reflection: Dodgers by Bill Beverly

23 Apr

My book club met a few weeks ago to discuss Dodgers by Bill Beverly. I’m so behind in posts (so many books to talk about!) that I’m getting to this a bit late. That’s why I take notes.

One of the biggest surprises to me was that the author was a white man from Michigan. Those who read the physical books saw the picture of Beverly on the back cover, so they weren’t surprised once the book was over like I was. We wondered how much he knew about his subject matter and what authority he had about it. Beverly now lives in DC and he lives and teaches in an area where he interacts with primarily black people. He’s also written a non-fiction book on criminal fugitives, so he does have some background on the subject. It still doesn’t seem like a fit, but I honestly wouldn’t have guessed he didn’t match East’s background until I looked up his photo. I wonder if someone from that background would feel the same way.

Some readers pointed out that the difference between the beautiful descriptions in East’s head and the eloquent way he thought was a rough contrast to the rough and rude dialogue of the boys. It made the words feel like they didn’t fit.

The shoot out at the beginning had a lasting impact on East and what he felt through the rest of the novel. It was a small team of boys, like the team in the van and something didn’t happen that should have, making the whole thing fall apart. One reader likened it to a school project where one person doesn’t do their part and the whole thing comes crashing down.

We all enjoyed the scene where the boys are buying guns. It emphasized how young they all are and how out-of-place they are in that world. They were trying to get out of a tough situation and felt they were finally making progress when they ditched Michael just to fall into an even tougher situation.

We find out during the novel that the boys didn’t necessarily need to kill the judge, they just needed to be out-of-town for a while. We wondered if Ty might have known. East was a rule-follower and he wasn’t going to deviate from the task, so he would never have suspected. Ty might have. Finn knew he couldn’t tell the boys just to leave town for a while, he had to give them a reason to be out-of-town and killing the judge seemed like a legit reason.

The characters in this book gave us a lot to talk about. Michael Wilson was the idiot of the group. He was impulsive, and it got him in trouble quickly. We wondered why he was referred to by his first and last name. Were there a lot of other Michaels? Or did it give him a level of authority, like his age, to be in charge? He wasn’t much of a leader.

We all agreed that we liked Walter better. He knew more than anyone else in the van except maybe Ty. He knew how they got the IDs and seemed to understand Finn’s operation a bit more than East and Michael Wilson.

As I said, Easy was a rule follower. He sometimes followed his own rules, but he followed them. He was meticulous about the things he decided were important. We have many examples of him keeping himself clean and showering while on the road. He kept the range clean after Perry died because that was his habit. The book ends with him not following a rule for once and running East.

We all felt there was something more to Ty that needed to be explained. Something must have made him the way he was, but we don’t know. He’s clearly a sociopath with no empathy and no possessions. A boy who stops coming home at nine and is moved out by eleven needs help and his family didn’t have the means to get it for him. From early in the book, when we first meet Ty, it’s clear he’s going to be the one to pull the trigger.

Martha Jefferson was a great character. Her plotline came up only because Walter was there. East never would have been able to charm her or been quick enough to join her on his own. We think Martha instantly felt bad for the boys. She understood how lonely it could be as a black person in rural Iowa. She may have known something bad was going on right away but went with it because she felt bad for the boys. We think she must have realized something was wrong by the time they got to the airport. She probably kept moving forward to avoid something worse happening to her.

There were a lot of parallels between East’s life at the beginning of the book and his time at the paintball range. There was a gang in town, the Christian Wolves. It was a white gang, but gangs are born of poverty and it was there in Ohio. The men who come are described as addicted at times, spending their whole paychecks on paintball and ignoring their families to be at the range.

In the end, East heads east. We talked about how historically, people struck west in the US to seek their fortunes. That wasn’t East’s way.

Our next book is The Power by Naomi Alderman. I’ve already finished it and I think it will be an amazing discussion. Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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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 SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. 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

WWW Wednesday, 27-March-2019

27 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: It’s been slow going with Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min because of a crazy work schedule. I hope to read a bit more of it during my lunch breaks this week, but I’m not planning on it. I work through ebooks slowly and this seems destined to that fate.
I’m making decent progress with Midwives by Chris Bohjalian before I go to bed at night. Though I suspect this book is increasing my anxiety because it seems impossible that someone is put on trial for doing their job and questioned so much!
I needed a new e-audiobook faster than expected and I picked up Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor. There were some issues borrowing from the library so it took a bit longer than I hoped before I could start this one, but all is good and I’m going strong! Maybe I’ll finish this one as fast as I’ve finished my last few audiobooks.
I started a new audiobook in my car while I wait on my library hold. This is my next book club selection, News of the World by Paulette Jiles. It’s a nice short one so I’m optimistic that I’ll wrap it up quickly!

Recently finished: I wrapped up Wonder by R.J. Palacio on Saturday and adored the ending! I have some minor quibbles about the style, but the story and premise were wonderful. I’ll be reviewing this in the next couple weeks (because I’m so backlogged on reviews!) and I’m giving it Four out of Five Stars.
I absolutely flew through Dodgers by Bill Beverly. The story grabbed me and made me think about race relations more than I thought it would. East was a great voice to tell this story. This should be a great discussion point for my book club when we meet in April.

Two book reviews to share as well! The first is Origin by Dan Brown. This was a fun read for me and I’m glad I’m caught up on Robert Langdon’s adventures. I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of the professor and I’ll be ready for the next one when it comes. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.
I also reviewed This Is a Book by Demetri Martin. This was a little harder to review just because there wasn’t much of a plot to this collection of comedic stories. I liked it, though, and it had my husband giving me weird looks as I laughed out loud in bed. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still waiting for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli to come in at the library. I’m hoping it’s soon but not too soon so I can finish my other audiobook first.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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

WWW Wednesday, 20-March-2019

20 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ve been really enjoying Wonder by R.J. Palacio. The way the plot is told is really engaging and I like how each character reveals a bit more about the plot. It’s making me want to drive around just to listen more.
I began a new ebook and decided on Becoming Madame Mao by Anchee Min. This was one that was recommended by my page-a-day book calendar in 2013. I’m still working that calendar off. Maybe once every ten years will be good for another one.
My book club’s next pick is Dodgers by Bill Beverly and I’ve grabbed it on audio. I don’t know anything about it, really, I’m just going in blind like I normally do. I’m so early into this one that I’m not ready to form an opinion yet. More to come.
I’m making a great effort to tear down my TBR mountain and I’ve started another one from the list, Midwives by Chris Bohjalian. I’ve been reading Bohjalian for a few years now and my copy of this one is actually autographed. I’m keeping my fingers crossed but I’ve got a feeling this break-out hit will be a win with me.

Recently finished: I finally finished Origin by Dan Brown while I was waiting for my computer to update on Friday. I didn’t realize how close I was to finishing it. I’m glad to be caught up on the series and I’m excited to see what else comes next from Langdon. I’m sure there’s more to tell. I gave the book Four out of Five stars. A review will be up next week.
I was able to finish This Is a Book by Demetri Martin quickly. It was a fun book of essays, drawings, and lists. Not much substance to it but fun all the same. I gave it Three out of Five stars.
I think I’ll have finished Thunderstruck by Erik Larson by next week. I’m getting through it pretty quick with my long bike rides. It’s not my favorite thing to listen to while riding because it’s so technical, but I can tell the plots are about to intersect and I’m excited to see how.

And so many reviews as well! I was first able to review Books for Living by Will Schwalbe. This one was really touching and a great book for book lovers. The post went up last Thursday, please go check it out.
I also reviewed The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton. This was a surprise winner for me and I’m so glad I finally gave it time. I wish I’d gotten to it earlier. Four out of Five Stars.
I also wrote a review yesterday for Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys. Yes, that is a review every day since my last WWW Wednesday! I’ve had so many good books to review. This book blew me away and I think I may soon have a new favorite YA author. I gave the book Five out of Five stars, changing my rating when I started reviewing it and realized I had nothing bad to say about it.

Reading Next: I’ll need a new car audiobook soon and the next up is one I’m very excited about, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. I’ve been wanting to read this one for a while and I’m getting giddy about starting it soon.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

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