Strong Boy, Weak Man
In the early 1960s, the deep south is divided by racism and economic inequality. The civil rights era is getting ramped up when Dr. Melvin Gray journeys down to Mississippi to study the relationships of African Americans, more specifically with respect to progress. Gray is interested in the people’s journey from progress to success, if any. Gray soon focuses on one young man in particular when he has a chance encounter with Michael Deangelo Nicholas. Nicholas is friendly and expresses his desire to break into the boxing world and be successful, despite the skepticism of his family. Dr. Gray visits the Nicholas family and witnesses a hard-working family toiling on a farm while living in a house that verges on dilapidated. Their determination is strong, which is truly embodied in Michael.
Mike can best be described as a dreamer. He is a teenager envisioning fighting with the Muhammad Alis of the world, yet an errant hair trimmer sparks a desire to become a barber. His flights of fantasy lead to acting without thinking, Mike wants what he wants. His parents want to see him work at home, work hard at school and succeed. Mike’s grades in school aren’t stellar; his behavior tends towards disruption. Yet, he is full of irrepressible spirit and not a bad kid. Mike yearns to be somebody leaving a lasting impression.
His struggles in school leave him falling behind in grades. Mike has a propensity for giving up when things are at their worst, yet some lucky breaks bring him confidence. His unique style is shown when he remakes a pair of hideous shoes, a teacher recommends him to her husband, who owns a barbershop. Mike is now shining shoes while apprenticing the hair-cutting trade. Mike throws himself into his studies and school while he becomes a recognized athlete.
Mike’s successes coincide with the dissolution of his parent’s marriage. His father’s stepping out on his mom with a close neighbor leads to an irreparable break with Mike. Mike has a string of successes and failures with the opposite sex, he is hampered by his unwillingness to settle down. Overall, Mike grows with each rise and fall.
Strong Boy, Weak Man is a moving look at a boy’s transition into manhood. The protagonist generates the interest of the reader from his initial introduction. Mike represents the dreamer in many of us and the willingness to buck conventions when failure is not an option. Mike is fallible, but you find yourself rooting for him to succeed in life and love. The author has penned an emotionally taut story of growth.
This page was created by an City Book Review staff member.
|Author||Earl Robert Key|
|Page Count||338 pages|
|Amazon||Buy this Book|
|Category||Spirituality & Inspiration|