Copperhead is one of the most intense novels you will read this year or maybe any year. It’s a deeply personal novel for author Alexi Zentner (The Lobster Kings and Touch). It’s a story about one young seventeen year old man Jessup who wants to just play football and take care of his family. But he lives in a town with a church for only white people and lots of racist overtones. At times it is a tough read and author Alexi Zentner has written a novel that has you rooting for him.
Jessup lives in a upstate New York with his mother and younger sister. They barely get by week to week money wise. His step-father and brother (both white) are in prison for killing two black men in self-defense. They didn’t have money for good lawyers and the pressure was on the authorities on the case. They both decided to take plea deals. And now his step-father is out of jail.
Jessup’s high school football team is in the playoffs for the first time in who knows how long. He is one of the top players on the team and has great grades. He’s hoping for a good scholarship for college (and has schools interested). He is a quiet person with a close friend in Wyatt and is dating the coach’s black daughter. During the game he lays a massive hit on one of the players on the other team. This leads to an altercation after the game in the parking lot and then at a party. Jessup is also having to live down his step-father and brother’s crime. As Jessup goes to leave the party something happens that will forever change his life and put him on a path that he doesn’t want to go on. It creates a deadly situation in the community and rips Jeesup apart.
To say anymore or hint at what happens would be spoilers. Just be prepared for an intense ride reading this book. It’s a shame in 2019 that we as a country still have to deal with any type of racial situations. Author Alexi Zentner writes a story that in parts is what our culture is these days. It will sure make you think and stay with you long after you read it.
You can pick up Copperhead in stores on Tuesday, July 9th from Viking.
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