I really enjoyed Where the Line Bleeds. This book is about choices made growing up in a poor part of America. Christophe and Joshua are fraternal twins, fresh out of high school. When the story opens, they are ready to seek jobs. The future is unclear, if wide open.
They are surrounded with family members whose own lives are either guideposts or hazards. Their father, Sandman, is largely absent because of addiction to drugs. Their mother has left for Atlanta and a series of decent jobs working retail. She provides the brothers with material needs, but she is woefully absent as a caregiver.
Instead, the twins are really cared for by their grandmother, Ma-Mee, and a cousin, Dunny.
Sandman, in particular, is a strong character. Easily he is one of the most pitiable figures in a book that I have read in a long time. For the author to make a person who is an absentee father and an addict into such a person takes a lot of doing. He is a ghost to the reader for a while, but by the end, I felt bad for him.
This book has a strong sense of place. It is set in a small town on the shore line of the Mississippi River. There is not a lot of opportunity in Bois Sauvage, or even in its sister community of St. Catherine's, where the white families live. The soil is full of clay. You need 10 acres to grow enough, so back when it was an agricultural community for African-Americans retreating from New Orleans, the people settled in a very spread out fashion. It is after Katrina. The economy is limited. The port has good jobs. Most jobs are in gas stations or fast food, though.
It was that sense of place that made me like this book so much. There is a lot of detail here that testifies to a way of life: what to get at the store if you want to boil shrimp, the code of conduct among kids playing pick-up basketball, the joy of wearing a nice outfit on the Fourth of July.