Friday 26 April 2024

Kitty and Mack: A Love Story by Walter Dean Myers

🎵I was the third brother of five / Doing whatever I had to do to survive / I'm not saying what I did was alright / Tryna break out of the ghetto was a day to day fight 🎵

Even though it's refers to a nearby street in the same area, Bobby Womack's classic song "Across 110th Street" is continually stuck in my head while reading through '145th Street' by Walter Dean Myers. It is a collection of short stories all set in a vibrant, predominantly black neighborhood in New York City. Reminiscent of Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing, it contains a huge cast of characters that pop in and out of various interconnected storylines while vividly capturing the social realities and life experiences of contemporary African Americans. 

Perhaps my expectations were a little too high but I really wanted to enjoy this one more. chose this particularly story at random and even though it was slightly disappointing, it is a relatively heartfelt depiction of young love, black masculinity, senseless violence, and shattered dreams. This is a very straightforward and slice-of-life narrative that borderlines on cliché while relying on certain cultural stereotypes. As indicated by the title, the romantic relationship between Kitty and Mack takes center stage. She's a top student at school and he's the star athlete, a talented baseball player destined to make the big leagues. However, fate intervenes and after tragedy thwarts Mack's aspirations, he retreats into himself, while Kitty's unwavering dedication to him only intensifies. His deliberate withdrawal from Kitty, both physically and emotionally, proves deeply distressing for her. The narrative attempts to navigate gender dynamics in a nuanced manner, perhaps aiming for a specific sense of authenticity. However, it failed to resonate with me on deeper emotional level, coming across as slightly contrived and overly dramatic. Nonetheless, there are much better stories within this collection that I hope to review soon.

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