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West of Rehoboth: A Novel Paperback – August 20, 2002

4.0 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Richly conceived if sometimes garbled in the telling, this novel by the author of the official tie-in to the Spielberg movie Amistad relates the story of 12-year-old Edward Massey, chubby self-appointed boy detective, and his summer adventures at Rehoboth Beach. The year is 1962, and Edward and his family have escaped the festering gang violence of steamy Philadelphia to spend the summer in deceptively cool Rehoboth, Del. The beach-town community, now the playground of the wealthy but originally settled by those seeking religious unity and escape from the moral decay of cities, is a world of contrasts, with its segregated beaches and restricted areas. The white inhabitants depend on the African-American residents to staff hotels, restaurants and homes, but do their best to ignore their presence. Edward's Aunt Edna is a pillar of Rehoboth's black community, the owner of a restaurant and candy store where the black townspeople gather. For five years, Edward and his family have spent their summers with her, and for five years Edward has wondered about the man living in a shack on Aunt Edna's property, a man he is told to call "Uncle Rufus." This summer, primed by his reading of Agatha Christie tales, he is determined to solve the mystery of Uncle Rufus. His investigations take him into dangerous territory, and he comes to learn much about love, murder and redemption. Pate's characters are fully imagined, breaking from stereotype, but his prose is rocky and disjointed in places, perspectives skipping unsteadily from speaker to speaker. Middle-class black life in the 1960s is ably captured, but the convincing scene-setting may not be able to distract readers from lapses at the sentence level.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

There is a mystery in Edward Massey's family, and he is determined to get to the bottom of it. Like his hero, Hercule Poirot, 12-year-old Edward collects clues and waits to see how the pieces fit together. Edward, his mother, and his sister escape the violence in their 1960s Philadelphia neighborhood by spending the summer at Aunt Edna's house in all-black West Rehoboth. Behind Edna's house, a man called Rufus lives in a shack, spending his time drinking or disappearing for days. Edward thought Rufus was his uncle, but Rufus isn't ever allowed in the house, and Edna and his mother forbid any trips to the shack. Sneaking visits with Rufus, Edward finally unravels the mystery--though not without placing himself in grave danger. Pate, English professor at the University of Minnesota and author of five novels, creates extraordinarily well developed characters, and his prose is eloquent and nuanced. Much of the story is told in flashback, linking the anger and frustration that Edward and his family feel in coping with the racism and violence on their streets with the same feelings experienced by generations past. For Edward, as well as the reader, the mystery at the heart of this compelling novel involves not only finding out the truth about Rufus but also understanding how much abuse a person can withstand before he or she is broken. A powerful coming-of-age tale. Beth Warrell
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; Reprint edition (August 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 038080042X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0380800421
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,873,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
It is an early 1960s summer and precocious
twelve-year-old Edward Massey is in west Rehoboth, a
genteel beach resort town in Delaware. Each summer he
and his family come here to stay with his Aunt Edna
and escape the volatile streets of Philadelphia. An
avid Agatha Christie reader intrigued with the mystery
of his gruff and haggard Uncle Rufus C. Brown - who
oddly lives in a frail shack behind his Aunt Edna's
house - Edward is determined to discover Rufus's past,
find out what everyone seems to either disregard or
fear in him. What he unleashes in the process is the
broken identity of a man who has always had hard luck
on his heels. With a set of truths as naked as we each
are when we enter the world, Alexs D. Pate renders a
stunning chronology of misery's evolution into a man.
Pate shrewdly plunges us so deep into despair that
we know it by its other name: Rufus. A colorful haunt!
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Format: Hardcover
Alex Pate is back and once again gracing us with his lyrical, eloquent and poignant writing style. West of Rehoboth is set in the `60s and is about one summer in the life of 12 year old Edward Massey. Every summer the Masseys traveled to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware to escape the heat, gangs and mean streets of Philly. Edward's parents believe that Rehoboth with its idyllic beach resorts and slower pace is a safer environment for a young AA male child in the early `60s. But is it really? While Rehoboth Beach definitely seems to move at a snail's pace, its still below the Mason-Dixon line where Blacks are still relegated to subservient roles. The environment is one of a slow furnace that simmers, cooks slowly and is ever ready to explode because of the extremely depressing racial climate. It's home of Aunt Edna a respected business woman and Uncle Rufus who Aunt Edna makes sleep in the shed out back. Young Edward, who's an avid Agatha Christie fan, has decided this is the summer, that he puts his sleuth skills to work, and finds out who is the real Uncle Rufus. In the process, Edward unknowingly will place his own life in danger as he discovers that Rufus is just one of many AA males who've been beaten down by the system and the times...who's encountered a life of violence, hate, frustration and much disappointment. But in spite of it all, Rufus has a story to tell and one that hopefully can teach Edward a few things about life and growing up as an AA male in this land of the free and the brave called America.
West of Rehoboth is a wonderful read with strong character development. Young Edward and elderly Rufus jump off the pages and into your heart as you read this poignant and engaging story.
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Format: Hardcover
Hats off to Alexs Pate for this great "coming of age" novel about Edward Massey, 12-year-old aspiring detective and an unusual summers in West Rehoboth, a beach in Delaware.
Every summer Edward's father take him, his mom and his younger sister to West Rehoboth to get away from the ongoing madness in their inner city surrounding. This particular summer Edward decides to put on his best detective hat and find out more about the strange man he know knows as Uncle Rufus.
One of the things that drew me into this book is that Edward reminds me of my younger days when I was always trying to figure out the what, where, how and why of everything. Edwards wants to know what his Uncle Rufus did that has him banned from his Aunt Edna's house. He wants to know where he disappears to without a trace. He wants to know how does he suddenly reappear and no one says anything and he wants to know why everyone says Uncle Rufus is crazy and why everyone tells him to stay away from him.
As Edward goes on to find the answers to this questions he also learns a couple of lessons about life and reality. Sorry, you'll have to read the book yourself and go along the journey with Edward to find out what the answers are :-D.
I really enjoyed this book for a number of reasons...I found the book to be captivating at times but I'll be honest it starts a little slow. The author developed the main characters so well that sometimes you knew what they were thinking. The book also has some suspenseful moments that will keep you turning the pages.
I recommend this book if you want to experience writing on a different level. I will surely be picking up more books by this wonderful author.
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Format: Hardcover
West of Rehoboth by Alexs D. Pate details the curiosity of a young
boy who wants to know why his uncle is an outcast within the family.
Edward Massey is a twelve-year-old boy who does not fit the typical
description of a young boy during the 60's. He enjoys reading
more then playing baseball with his friends. In fact, his favorite
books center on the fictional detective Hercule Poirot and the
mysteries of Agatha Christie.
Every summer Edward and his family travel to Rehoboth
Beach in Delaware. Edward's father drives them to Rehoboth and drops
Edward, his sister, and mother off at his Aunt Edna's house,
which serves as a restaurant, dance hall, and a place where people
come and rent rooms. Aunt Edna is famous in the area for her Bar-B-Q
ribs. Edward's mother works every summer as a waitress to help with
the family finances. The other reason for coming to Rehoboth Beach
was for him and his sister to get away from Philadelphia for the
summer to avoid the temptations of the streets.
The trips are annual, but his curiosity of his Uncle Rufus, which
everyone in the family avoids talking about,increases. This summer,
Edward was determined to find out everything he could about
his Uncle Rufus and why his uncle wasn't allowed in Aunt Edna's house.
He also wanted to know where Uncle Rufus always disappeared to during
the course of the summer, and then would suddenly reappear. When the
family members gather at Aunt Edna's house, he could hear
whispers about his uncle being crazy and when they saw him they would
suddenly stop talking. Edward was going to solve the mystery behind
his Uncle Rufus, even though he had been warned every summer to stay
away from his uncle.
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