Black and White is a novel written by Paul Volponi. The story is set in Queens, New York City. It was first published in 2005 and has won a large number of literary prizes. The main characters are Eddie and Marcus, star players of their high school basketball team. Eddie is white and Marcus is black. They have risen above the racial differences and are best friends. They think that nothing is going to stop them fulfilling their dream – getting a sports scholarship to a prestigious university and going on to play professional basketball.
It is the beginning of their final term in high school. The school is soon finished, which of course calls for celebration. There is just one problem: how to find enough money to pay for the trips and parties coming up. They take the matter into their own hands, but their decision proves to be fatal. Using Eddie’s grandfather’s old gun, they carry out three armed robberies. They are no longer short of money, but suddenly they find themselves in trouble with the police. Their friendship is at risk, and so is the bright future they thought was ahead of them. Marcus and Eddie have to take responsibility and grow up – very quickly.
Friendship, love, racial differences (racism), crime, sport, growing up, poverty, and opportunities in life are all themes that are central in this amazing story about Marcus and Eddie. Friendship is probably the theme that is the most “visible”. That is because of the fantastic friendship between Marcus and Eddie. They have, as I have said before, risen above the racial differences and are best friends. They do not live in very rich families, so they do not have very much money. When they do not have the money to pay for college, they have to stake everything out in one effort. They have to go all out for sport and try to get a college scholarship. Later when they do not have money to pay for the trips at school, they decide to do perform crime to get money. When they get arrested, the book takes a look again on the racial differences. This time it is in court. We can see that white people are treated better than black people. Eddie does not need to spend so much time in jail before court that Marcus has to. Eddie’s lawyer is putting a lot more effort in for Eddie, than Marcus’ lawyer is doing. In the book, the black youths X and Moses say that white people are able to escape imprisonment by pulling strings and knowing influential people. There is a tendency for the criminal justice system to work in favor of white people, but the reasons are complex. Marcus also notices when he is on Rikers Island, which is a prison, that there were black people wall to wall except for a few Spanish people. My opinion is that friendship and racial differences is the two themes that the book focuses the most on.
Marcus Brown| Marcus is one of the main characters. He is a black African American. He plays basketball at LIC (Long Island City High School) in New York City (Queens). He lives with his mother and sister, and he is Eddie’s best friend. Marcus’ mother work as a seamstress.| Eddie Russo| Eddie is also one of the main characters. He is white. He does also play basketball at LIC (Long Island City High School). He lives with his mother and father, and with his sister Rose. Eddie’s father works at the Department of Sanitation (garbage man). Eddie’s mother work as a school aide at LIC. | Sidney Parker| Sidney is a black bus-driver. He is not mentioned very much, but is essential though, this is because he is the victim of one of Marcus and Eddie’s robberies.| Casey| Coach of the LIC basketball team. Casey is very supportive to his players, and is there for Marcus when he is in court etc.| X, Moses, Andre, Preston| Basketball players at LIC|
Jason Taylor| Former captain of the LIC basketball team. He was killed by a white racist. Jason is an idol for Marcus and Eddie.|
The story takes place in Queens, New York...