Reviewed by Natalie Gerritsen
Daron loves his life and friends at Berkeley, and he loves the political awareness and activism that comes with the Berkeley environment. But when he mentions the annual Civil War re-enactment held in his hometown of Braggsville, Georgia, he couldn’t have predicted the outrage his friends would show. Encouraged by their professor, Daron’s friends soon come up with a plan to protest the re-enactment. He takes them to Braggsville, where they intend to disturb the festival dressed up as slaves. While Daron’s feelings get more conflicted by the minute, torn as he is by his Southern roots and his modern world views, his friends start acting even more superior. Soon though, their protest takes a dark turn nobody could have seen coming, and lives are changed forever.
Just like Daron, I have conflicted feelings. I liked the characters and I loved some of the twists in the story. The middle part of the book was simply impressive, no argument about it. But… I just didn’t like the style of the writing and since that makes or breaks a book, it’s a big ‘but’.
I usually hate it when a writer doesn’t use regular punctuation, especially when writing dialogue. It feels like a cheap trick to make a book look like Literature with a capital L, but to me, it just disturbs the story, making it almost impossible for me to lose myself in it. I was willing to forgive this style this time, because of the great story, but Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson didn’t just keep me guessing if I was reading dialogue of narrative; it also played irritating games like suddenly retelling part of the story in the form of a paper and through confusing flashbacks.
In the end, I’m a bit disappointed. The book has good characters, with believable developments. It also has a great story, with some bold choices. It could have been a total win, if the writing hadn’t annoyed me so much.
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T. Geronimo Johnson’s previous novel is Hold It ‘Til It Hurts.