“Time & Place ‘In the life of B and K,’” by Khalil Coleman. Publisher: Changing Lives Through Literature, PO Box 76169, Milwaukee WI 53216, $13.00. 40 pages.
Still in his early 20s, Khalil Coleman is determined to change the fortunes of young male African-Americans, and he’s turning to literature to help make it happen.
This short book takes a fictional heartfelt journey about the life of ‘B,’ a teenager, who looks about the ghetto in which he lives and still sees hope and a chance for change for the better. He is joined by his best friend, ‘K,’ in a bus trip out of their seedy, dissipated environment into the peaceful surroundings to visit more affluent friends.
There he sees hope for a change, and returns to face the challenges of his neighborhood and its people, regardless of their fretful situations, who are reluctant to make the change.
He finds that he is seriously misunderstood by young people he had considered his friends, particularly after his friend falls prey to an unfortunate fate.
What is a boy to do? That is for the reader to discover in reading this book.
Coleman has an eye and ear for the “hood,” and what it feels like to be of the ‘hood.’ His descriptions of his neighbors, of their lives and of their own unknowing despair is so real, you share in his feelings, a rare gift for such a young writer.
His book reminds of a book, more than 60 years old, “Invisible Man,” by Ralph Ellison, (published 1947 by Random House), in which an idealistic young black man tries to make his way in the white man’s world.
Coleman’s writing has a poetic quality; hence, the brevity of this book makes sense. His meaning flows out in his words, even though this reviewer wishes he had cut down the length of his paragraphs, many of which run on and on and make reading a bit difficult.
It’s a shame, too, since Coleman intends this book to be read by teens … maybe even shared in groups.
Those of us who don’t live in the hood may find why it’s so hard for young black men to find success in this still racist society. – Kenneth A. Germanson, Nov. 30, 2010