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Harlem Summer

3.71  ·  Rating Details  ·  231 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Myers is at his clever best in this witty and action-packed, coming-of-age story of a teenager's summer during the Harlem Renaissance and his run-ins with famous gangsters, writers, and musicians.

It's 1925 and Mark Purvis is a 16-yr-old with a summer to kill. He'd rather jam with his jazz band (they need the practice), but is urged by his parents to get a job. As an assist
Hardcover, 176 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Scholastic Press
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Monster by Walter Dean MyersFallen Angels by Walter Dean MyersStreet Love by Walter Dean MyersScorpions by Walter Dean MyersSunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers
Walter Dean Myers
40th out of 70 books — 29 voters
The Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanSwitch! The Lost Kingdoms of Karibu by Karen  PrinceHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingCatching Fire by Suzanne Collins
452nd out of 467 books — 490 voters

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Sherrell Jefferson
Apr 24, 2014 Sherrell Jefferson rated it liked it
This is book left me with so many questions. Society conveys people's assumption and interpretation of the world when growing up. Mark is put into a situation were he's forced to get a job to help out his family raise money for his brother for college. To raise some extra money he takes on a job with a local musician Fats and gets himself into some trouble when his friend Crab Cakes runs off with the bootlegged wine, he returned it at the end of the book of course. After going through all that t ...more
Jennifer Wardrip
Reviewed by Christian C. for

It's the summer of 1925 in Harlem, a summer that sixteen-year-old Mark Purvis will never forget. In just a months time, Mark will get to meet the best and the worst people of New York City.

Mark gets a job at The Crisis, a magazine that promotes and encourages "New Negroes." The magazine was part of a movement created during that time with a mission to discover talented persons of color -- poets, novelists, and musicians -- and show them to the world.
Yousra Bushehri
Feb 23, 2015 Yousra Bushehri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really loved the writing of this book: easy, straight forward, fun. The story was entertaining and I loved that it featured real people (I enjoyed reading the section in the back of the book). I enjoyed the characters and the setting of the book.

Overall a really good book.
April Helms
Apr 20, 2008 April Helms rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: young adults (11+) and adults
Mark picks up a summer job at "Crisis," an African American publication. But he also wants to get closer to famed musician Fats Waller, and quickly agrees to assist Fats in a sidejob. Unfortunately, things go wrong in this job, and soon Mark and his friends find themselves in hot water with the local gangsters. Combines an engaging and often humerous tale with actual historical figures such as the aforementioned Fats Waller, Langston Hughes, W.E.B. DuBois and Dutch Schultz. The appendix, with a ...more
Jesus Jimenez
Nov 06, 2015 Jesus Jimenez rated it really liked it
The book that I read for the nine weeks was Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers and it's about a sixteen-year old named Mark Purvis who wants to know if he is part of the "New Negro" and when he starts working at The Crisis which is a newspaper for African-Americans Miss Faucet who is Mark’s boss at The Crisis she wants to find out if Mark is a New Negro. Mark plays Jazz with his two best friends and he admired a jazz player by the name of Fats. Fats was really talented and respected jazz player ...more
Antoinette Evans
Apr 23, 2015 Antoinette Evans rated it liked it
Harlem Summer is a coming of age story about a young man named Mark growing up in the 1920s. His dreams include becoming a saxophone player, making it big and making it through the Harlem Renaissance. Myers does an excellent job of putting his readers in the characters shoes and helping them understand Harlem in the 1920s. This story is great for teaching historical fiction paired up with the struggles that everyday teenagers face.
This would make a great book in the classrooms of young adults w
Doctor Sax
This was a tremendous effort by Walter Dean Myers. I really enjoyed how he weaved real life Icons such as W.E.B. Dubois, Booker T. Washington, Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen etc. into this portrait of youth that shows us how even the best intentioned can get caught up in truly adult situations. Superb rhythm to this story!
This was an OK book about life in Harlem during the Harlem Renaissance (1920s). It wove actual people through the novel and gives an explanation about who they are at the end. Good for middle school discussion or for black history month.
Sep 24, 2014 Mariesreads rated it liked it
Shelves: staff-reading
I've always wanted to read Walter Dean Myers and finally got the opportunity. It is as I thought. His books must all teach good lessons. This one did. It was about a young man in 1925s Harlem who unknowingly got mixed up in illegal activities. He was faced with a decision as to whether to continue making money this way or not make much money and be legal. I loved the way Dean wrote this. He included a lot of real life celebrities from that time. He included a lot of the arts from that time perio ...more
Jul 25, 2015 Caity rated it it was amazing
This is the story of an aspiring Jazz musician who inadvertently gets caught up in a life of crime during prohibition. The book is fairly short as it takes place over a single summer but it provides a lot of insight into what Harlem was like during that time period. The book also features a section in the back that lists all the real historical figures featured in the book and a little bit about each person. Overall this is an interesting look at the time period that I would recommend to teens i ...more
Oct 23, 2010 Ari added it
I didn't really have any expectations of the story, I just wanted to get a better idea of what Harlem was like during the 1920s and on that front this book did not disappoint. I could feel the heat rising off the sidewalk and imagine all the nightclubs and aspiring musicians lining up to perform in the clubs. One of the most fascinating things about this book (for me anyway) was the characterization of DuBois. Many of you may know that there was a huge rift between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Wa ...more
Oct 05, 2011 Andrea rated it it was amazing
Appropriate Age: 7th grade and above

This poem takes the reader through a soulful journey about life in Harlem. The connective theme is song and voice, and how these people have taken their song from Africa, and changed/added to it through slavery and finally in their life in Harlem.

Walter Dean Myers grew up in Harlem, which gives him credibility to write in this genre. The cultural details are neatly integrated into the text and pictures through the readers exploration of Harlem. Although the ov
Jenni Moore
Oct 12, 2011 Jenni Moore rated it it was amazing
Harlem Summer is book narrated by the main character about his life; the struggles and thrill he undergoes make up the plot within. I find this book mainly written as a light source of intertainment. At about 170 pages, many people would consider it a "light read". I found myself contantly inspired by the will that drove our main character. He catches a job at a magazine ( The Crisis ) to help earn a few extra bucks to help his family out, not really seeing himself there in the future. The new j ...more
Summer Cull
Apr 15, 2013 Summer Cull rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 29, 2013 Becky rated it liked it
This book has kind of a strange tone to it. The content is actually very, very dark and scary, but the book itself is not all that scary. It moves quickly along quickly, and even though there is danger and trouble all over the place, it is actually pretty funny. The boys walk away from being threatened by gangsters with guns and Mark tells Henry he is the "cryingest guitar player I've ever seen." And even though they get mixed up with bootleggers and could easily have been killed, it all comes o ...more
Christian Daulat
Apr 09, 2015 Christian Daulat rated it really liked it
I think this book was great. I like the storyline to this book, but it felt unfinished. The ending just came so quick. Anyway, The book is about a boy, who wants to be a famous jazz player. To get some cash, he makes this big mistake that ends up in him clutching his life. This was back in the day, when everything was cheaper. 1$ now is $13.57 then. In the end, this book is great, and I will recommend this book to anyone who wants to read a simple but great book.
English Education
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 07, 2010 Elmedina marked it as 11th-grade-advisory
Harlem Summer by Walter Dean Myers, is about this boy named Mark. He is a 16 year old boy that likes to play the saxophone and write. He works at this place called the crisis. It's a newspaper company where he can do his favorite thing, write. The reason why he is working there is because he is trying to make money for his broher and his college. This book is perfect to feel the rythm of the Halem Rennasaince.

My favorite part was when he got the job at the newspaper place because he can help hi
Mar 13, 2008 Ozimandias rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Suckers for cute stories
This book is a rather lazy way of telling a story about the Harlem Renaissance. All he did was to take a stock character, a kid aspiring to play jazz, and put him into situations involving non-fictional characters. Just because you drop names of people doesn't mean that anyone would get something meaningful out of it. The book is supposed to be about an "Old Negro" coming in contact with the world of the "New Negro" while working at The Crisis Magazine for W.E.B. DuBois. By the end of the novel, ...more
Mar 31, 2009 Julia rated it really liked it
Mark has to make money so his older brother can got to college, but it‘s the summer of 1925 in Harlem and there‘s lots for Mark to do. He gets a job with "The Crisis" magazine put out by the NAACP, for “New Negroes,” he is told. He helps Fats Waller, who is helping Dutch Schultz unload some illegal liquor, which leads to all sorts of problems.
By the time fall comes, Mark‘s brother has gone off to college, Mark is back in high school, hoping to play music with Fats Waller and sworn off a life in
You already know Walter Dean Myers is one of my favorite authors.You already know he wrote some of my favorite books.However,if you haven't read any of his books you don't know how versatile his books are.As well as the characters in them.In this book especially.
Caroline Shewmaker
I consider this a great feeder book. It could act as an accessible introduction to issues of racial identity as well as spark interest in learning more about the Harlem Renaissance. It's a quick and easy read that is both entertaining and informative. If you have a free afternoon or two, go check it out.
Chii Muni
This book will introduce students to Harlem in the eyes of teenager during 1925. As the main character, Mark Purvis, becomes involved in a bootlegging scheme jazz musician Fats Waller and has encounters with W. E. B. DuBois, Marian Anderson, and Langston Hughes to name a few. During Marks adventure, he becomes aware of his surrounds. This is an intriguing read that students will be able to appreciate. Students will be able to describe how the Harlem Renaissance affected the United States during ...more
Oct 22, 2009 Celia rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-lit
I really liked this YA book because of its cast of characters. I have read many Walter Dean Myers books, and enjoyed 145th Street the most.
Harlem Summer is a great book to use when teaching about the Harlem Renaissance because EVERYONE who was anyone is in this novel, including Langston Hughes, Fats Waller, W.E.B. DuBois, and even Dutch Schultz have a role.
Mark, the main character, takes a job at The Crisis, and learns what it means to be a "New Negro", but he's not sure he wants any part of i
Feb 28, 2012 Christine rated it liked it
Shelves: jf-ya
Harlem summer is about a teenage boy who aspires to be a jazz musician during the New Negro movement that we later came to call the Harlem Renaissance. The main character tangles with gangsters during prohibition and finds himself in a tough spot. What I liked about the book was that I was pulled into the story right away. I liked the characters. I loved the way WDM incorporated the personalities of the time period into the story.

This is 3 WDM stars (equivilent to other mere mortals' 4 stars) b
May 02, 2012 Karen rated it liked it
3 stars may be generous.

Harlem Summer is a YA historical fiction novel set in 1925. It follows Mark, a 16 year old, as he works at The Crisis, the NAACP's magazine, and as he tries to earn money, which he does so by helping others bootleg liquor. He meets a lot of real people, including famous writers & poets (W.E.B. Dubois & Langston Hughes) as well as famous gangsters, kind of the best & worst of those living during the Harlem Renaissance. The story itself is not very engaging, and
Jul 26, 2012 Jill marked it as to-read
Citation: Myers, W. D. (2007). Harlem summer. New York: Scholastic Press.

Reviews and Awards: Book Links 01/01/07, Multicultural Review 03/01/08, Booklist 02/01/07, Parents' Choice Silver Honor 2007, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 04/01/07, Publishers Weekly 03/26/07, Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books 05/01/08, Publishers Weekly starred 04/21/08, Horn Book 05/01/07, School Library Journal 03/01/07, Horn Book starred 10/01/07, Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA) 04/01/07, Kirkus
Debbie Tanner
I loved tis book about a boy growing up in Harlem in 1925. Mark wants to be a musician and is hoping to follow his friend, Fats Waller, will help him out. His mother has other plans and he ends up working at a magazine for "the New Negro"which is run by WEB DuBois and employs people like Langston Hughes. I loved the mix of fiction and true people.
Jun 19, 2012 Danny rated it it was ok
Harlem summer is a good book. In the summer of 1925 mark has to go find a summer job to send and keep his brother in college,mark will meet some good and bad people in attempt to make money. Mark will go though a lot at a very young age and will get very stressed out. Like most of the kids in Harlem of 1925 mark will have to muture fast.
Courtney Hartley
Aug 13, 2016 Courtney Hartley rated it it was ok
Shelves: audio, ya, library
This didn't feel very coherent, and was kinda just name dropping of real people around a fictional kid.
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Stacie Johnson

Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsburg, West Virginia but moved to Harlem with his foster parents at age three. He was brought up and went to public school there. He attended Stuyvesant High School until the age of seventeen when he joined the army.

After serving four years in the army, he worked at various jobs and earned a BA from Empi
More about Walter Dean Myers...

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