“East breathed out and let his eyes adjust to the map, the thick red and black and blue cords inching state to state. Dense and jumpy. Every road had a number and joined up a hundred times with other roads. He saw how they would go. This was like the mazes they used to do in school while the teacher slept. What they said in school was: Don’t worry. Keep looking at it. You can always get there.” – Bill Beverly
East is a fifteen-year-old who has lived harder than many twice his age. He has lived in The Boxes in Los Angeles his whole life, knowing nothing but poverty and the drug culture. The only role models he has known are those he work for, men who run drug rings and are fluent in the underground culture. Although East has proven himself time and again, when he takes the blame for a fatal error, he fears that he will be isolated from te only stability he has known. Because East puts his ‘career prospects’ at risk, he is asked to do a mission to prove his mettle.
With a team of four young men, East sets out in an inconspicuous minivan with the sole purpose of assassinating a witness who put a key gangster in prison. While East is willing to oblige because it will secure his position in the gang despite his error, he has no knowledge of the world outside of his neighborhood, much less the state of California. This journey is both heart-wrenching and disturbing because the characters are so complex. Bill Beverly’s debut novel is a worthwhile read and will appeal to young adults and adults alike. The eye-opening journey brings up issues of race, poverty, and violence in a stunningly natural way as East journey’s to find himself and his place in the world.