A powerful coming-of-age novel about a twenty-something Black musician living in predominantly white Portland, Oregon, playing in a rock band on the verge of success while struggling with racism, romance, and the legacy of his strict religious upbringing.
Julian Strickland is seemingly the lone Black man in the hipster dreamland of Portland, Oregon. To his friends, heâs the coolest member of the scene: the soulful drummer from Chicago in an indie rock band thatâs just about to break through. But to himself, heâs a sheltered Christian homeschool kid who used to write book reports on Leviticus. A virgin until the night of his marriage, divorced at twenty-four, heâs still in disarray two years laterâpretending to fit in, wondering if any of his relationships are real, estranged from his family, and struggling to reconcile his relationship with God.
Then he meets Ida Blair, a Black painter at the start of a promising career. They begin a tentative relationship, and Ida seems to offer Julian relief from his confusion. But suddenly she stops responding to his texts. Things only get worse when Julianâs best friend mysteriously turns on him, his house burns down, and the band considers breaking up on the eve of their most important show yet. It seems the only thing Julian has leftâthe only thing heâs ever had, reallyâis the weight he is carrying.
Jeff Boydâs beguiling first novel is a piercing exploration of faith, racial identity, love, and friendshipâwoven of acid humor, disarming vulnerability, and unforgettable poignance.