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The book arrived in my mailbox on Monday afternoon. I picked it up right away and started to read. Except for necessary breaks, I didn’t stop reading until I finished, about one hour past my bedtime on Monday evening. I couldn’t put it down.
The story revolves around Max, a district attorney who managed to pull himself out of poverty in the Philadelphia ghetto, and Jada, a young girl raised with very little to call her own in a foster home. Their stories are intertwined with the characters Max and Jada touch and try to save along the way. Both characters strive to make a positive difference in the lives of those who need them most, with varying degrees of success. Their successes and failures drive the book’s emotional ups and downs, and ultimate sadness for those who could not be saved.
I found the book intriguing because of how the author placed me right inside the hearts and minds of his major characters, helping me to see and feel and in some ways understand this world that is so distant from my own life experience. With vivid descriptions, lively dialogue and well-drawn, endearing characters, the author captured and maintained my attention. Again and again, I had to turn the page to see what happened next. After just a few pages, I was emotionally invested with Jada and Max, along with a number of supporting characters.
Baskerville does an excellent job of allowing the reader to see the emotional connection between characters through behavior, dialogue and descriptions. Without a word spoken, for example, Momma Pike’s secret sewing projects showed how much she loved those foster children who, for self-protection, she tried so hard not to love.
I was a little taken aback at first by the ghetto language. It took some getting used to. I cannot attest for its authenticity as I have no experience beyond the occasionally overhead rap song, but the dialogue certainly seemed realistic and true to life to me. It added to the reality of the characters and the story, as did the story line in which not every character is able to find a happy ending, reflecting the reality of the book’s setting.
I am rating One Hundred Percent Innocent a 4 out of 4, because it succeeded on both my measures of what makes a good book: I could not put it down. And the characters have remained with me after I finished reading. An excellent read!
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