4 out of 4 stars
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Roxy, by Robert O. Smith, is a fictional, young adult novel. The story follows the life of a working class Jamaican, Rafer (Rafe) Cartwright. He is a very intelligent individual, but lacked the proper educational stimulation. Then as Rafe reached his seventeenth birthday, Sir Usain Alt became his geography/history teacher. He had the ability to inspire the students and push them to think outside the box. He became Rafe's mentor and life-long friend.
After he graduated, Rafe intended on going to college. However, the tough economic times during the 1970's pushed him to look to the United States for better employment. Using his mentor's connections in the States, he found a job and a place to live with Usain's cousin. However, he was naive and didn't understand the dark side of the streets. His life became a nightmare that could only be overcome by the love of a special canine and a human.
The first chapter of this book was a glimpse into the distant past that caught my attention and drew me into the story. The author then jumped ahead to the more recent past. I was impressed how he wove historical facts into the life story of the main character, Rafe. I learned interesting facts about Jamaica's history without it seeming like a dry history lesson.
Rafe was a well-developed character with many interesting layers, from his athletic prowess to his scholastic abilities. The author knew how to make his characters come alive on the pages. I fell in love with his little dog, Mutu. The love between Rafe, his girlfriend Wendy and Mutu was my favorite part of the book.
The settings ranged from Jamaica to New Jersey. The stark contrast between the areas was enhanced by the author's descriptive writing. At times I could feel the heat of the island and then be transported to the freezing winters of New Jersey.
About a quarter of the way into the book, I became a little bogged down. The story took a dip into the underbelly of New Jersey. Drugs, prostitution and the Mafia became a central theme. Some of the language and sexual situations were graphic and definitely not suitable for young readers. However, after a few chapters, the story introduced Rafe's two loves, his dog and Wendy. I'm a dog lover and could immediately relate to his relationship with his dog, Mutu. I know a book is memorable when it brings me to tears. Also, there was a twist in the book that surprised me.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The editing appears to be professional with no glaring mistakes. The story is enjoyable and moves at a good pace. I think mature fans of many different genres will enjoy this book.
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