FICTION

The Talented Ribkins

Melville House. Aug. 2017. 304p. ISBN 9781612196367. $25.99; ebk. ISBN 9781612196374. F
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Johnny Ribkins is feeling every minute of his 72 years but pursues a mission to retrieve caches of hidden loot he buried 14 years ago throughout southwest Florida. Yet this is no ordinary road trip through tropical heat. Johnny owes money to his mobster boss and has one week to pay up. Arriving in Lehigh Acres to gather up the first batch, he meets his deceased brother's wife and teenage daughter, Eloise. The former thief is surprised to learn that Eloise will ride shotgun with him on his journey, and the sulky teen soon challenges his patience. Like his father, brother, and cousin, Johnny possesses an odd superpower—his is to make accurate maps. During the 1960s, the four men used their abilities as the Justice Committee in a failed attempt to help the civil rights movement. But Johnny soon discovers that Eloise has a superpower of her own.
VERDICT With a nod to W.E.B. Dubois's essay "The Talented Tenth," this debut novel revolves around the subtle theme of adults passing on knowledge to younger generations. Hubbard's voice mixes wry humor and superhero pop culture while addressing issues that continue to challenge our country's African American community. [Hubbard is a 2016 winner of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award.—Ed.]

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