Long Division by Kiese Laymon follows two narratives that are closely tied together. The first begins with a boy in 2013 named City, who becomes famous overnight from a speech at a national sentence contest. The second narrative follows another boy, by the same name, living in 1985, where he finds a time portal to 1965 and 2013. The characters and themes of each part look to tackle race and racism in America.
What I found interesting and fairly fun is the way the novel is self-referential. In the story, there is a book also called Long Division that acts as a side character for both City’s, since they each have one part of the book. And I found that the amount of wit and wordplay in the story felt fluid and was engaging.
However, in the last few chapters, there is one scene where a building is about to be lit on fire with the body of Lerthon Coldson in it. But I found it odd that Baize was able to simply put on a song to cause the Klansmen to stop their plan and join in dancing. The premise just felt somewhat inconsistent with the tone and trajectory with the rest of the scene.
Overall, it was a nice read, and the voices of the characters seem they have been written with their age in mind. And finally, I liked how the story ended with a sprinkle of hope to get Baize back from disappearing.
Final Rating 3.5/5
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Maxwell Suzuki is a writer, poet, and photographer based in Los Angeles.