3 out of 4 stars
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An Adjunct Down by Harvey Havel is a very interesting story. Archie, the narrator tells the life story of his friend, Reginald “Reggie” Meeks similar to a biographical way. At first, I found this approach surprising, but as the story progressed, I found it to be nice in an original way. I learnt a new word, ‘adjunct’, which means ‘assistant’ but the author perhaps had a more profound meaning in mind while assigning the title of the book. The title has a sense of foreboding, which can be confirmed only after reading the book.
Archie works in the mail-room of the university, delivering mail to many people, including the elite and the underprivileged. He is content with his job. He did have a prior job at a bank, which paid more but at the price of his mental calm. His father left him and his mother when Archie was very young, so Archie had to earn his own bread and butter. He adores his mother who has helped him live, if not a luxurious one, a livable life.
Reggie teaches Black History in the same university. Unlike his predecessors, he wants his students to learn more about many revolutionaries other than rote memorization of the lives of Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. He is passionate about his job. His father owns a restaurant and, along with his mother, Boo and sister, Laney, he helps out as a dishwasher. His father dislikes Reggie’s enthusiasm for academia and would prefer him giving more time to the restaurant. His mother is caring and affectionate, though she doesn’t express her appreciation for his studies in an exuberant manner.
Reggie meets Wonder Robbins, a white classmate of his, who is very passionate about the course. Both Archie and Reggie are black. Reggie begins to date Wonder, without the knowledge of either of their parents. Will it work out? Or will Reggie succumb to his father’s wish of dating Bianca, a black girl who knows only to party hard?
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The conflicts between the white and the black have been explained quite well without many people getting hurt. I disliked the use of foul language but appreciate the author’s effort to downplay the graphic scenes. The method of explanation is in a way like “what not to do in life” but the flow was spectacular. Characterization of Reggie Meeks is perfect. Though I expected it to be Archie’s story, I was satisfied with the approach. I felt that the ending could be fine tuned, but perhaps I do not share the same views as the author. I found quite a few editing mistakes, which I am sure could be rectified.
I think people who want to succeed in life, despite their past, must learn from Archie. People with a passion for life would definitely like this book. If you do not appreciate foul language, this is not the book for you. Yet the underlying moral is quite clear.
An Adjunct Down
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