Blackberries Are Red When Green
by Keith Frohreich
Amazon Digital Services LLC

"I turned ten the year I met Dutch, the summer of 1958."

This historically relevant Bildungsroman is a tender but gritty tale. Told in the first-person viewpoint of Kurt Baumann, a farm boy, this debut novel reads like an intimate memoir, transporting readers to the hardworking, homespun world of mid-twentieth-century Indiana, where family dysfunction, racial inequity, and brutal violence lurk beneath the bucolic, church-going surface of an ordinary farming community.

At the heart of the story is Kurt’s friendship with Dutch, a black elder who lives in a shack across the river from the Baumann farm. Dutch becomes Kurt’s male role model after his father’s death, schooling the boy in the history of black America and, specifically, about his career as a Pullman train porter as well as the challenges of the ongoing civil rights movement. Kurt has already lost his best friend, his beloved dog, and his father before the murders of two youngsters he’s acquainted with rock the quiet community. He grapples greatly with the meaning of life and the existence of a compassionate God integral to his Christian faith.

Frohreich has woven many biographical and historical elements into this otherwise fictional tale. So convincing are the detailed but efficient narrative and vivid, complex characterizations, it’s easy to forget that the author is not the protagonist and that the plot isn’t real, The book will appeal to young adult and adult readers who enjoy a Midwestern gothic aesthetic that reflects aspects of works like Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories by Norman Maclean, and The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

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