SOCIAL SCIENCES

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left Newark for the Ivy League

Scribner. Sept. 2014. 416p. ISBN 9781476731902. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781476731926. SOC SCI
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Hobbs (The Tourists) reconstructs the life and thoughts of Rob Peace—his close friend and roommate for four years at Yale University—after his friend's untimely death. Peace left Newark, NJ, to study biochemistry and biophysics at Yale and become a teacher in his hometown yet unexpectedly fell victim to the drug trade. Hobbs uses creative nonfiction to re-create conversations and events in Peace's life. The resulting portrait of Peace is nuanced, contradictory, elusive, and probing, with the author almost deifying his deceased friend. Hobbs is honest about his own shortcomings and addresses the difficulties he had overcoming the class and racial differences between himself and Peace. At its core, the story compels readers to question how much one can really know about another person. Peace seems to step in and out of focus as Hobbs sees him through the eyes of one companion after another. Heavily detailed, this title brings to mind memoirs such as Cupcake Brown's A Piece of Cake, if her story had been told by her very skilled novelist roommate.
VERDICT An intelligent, provocative book, recommended for any biography lover. [See Prepub Alert, 3/3/14.]

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