By A sensitively rendered story about race, friendship and freedom, Black's debut novel is set in a small Texas town in the 1960s. Jim, the main character, is a 13-year-old ready to spend a lazy summer engaged in his favorite pursuits: fishing and playing baseball. When he learns that his fishing hole is being used by an older black man named Sam, he is disappointed and disturbed by the presence of the stranger. Yet the two soon become close, and Sam, who played baseball in the Negro Leagues, acts as a surrogate father to Jim, coaching the boy through his first crush and helping him cope with the death of his troubled father. Their unlikely friendship is convincingly portrayed by Black, who writes expertly about the tumultuous 1960s. This quiet coming-of-age novel has all the makings of a classic. A reading group guide is available online at

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