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Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East's hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he's never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.
Written in stark and unforgettable prose and featuring an array of surprising and memorable characters rendered with empathy and wit, Dodgers heralds the arrival of a major new voice in American fiction.

304 pages, Hardcover

First published March 30, 2016

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Bill Beverly

8 books175 followers

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5 stars
1,523 (25%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 822 reviews
Profile Image for karen.
3,976 reviews170k followers
July 26, 2018
In his mind he was boiling it down: Drive the roads. Meet up for guns. The job. He tried to follow it in his mind, see where the problems were. But there was nothing to see. Only these boys. Kill a man? More like keep them from killing each other, these three boys, for two thousand miles in this ugly van. That was what they'd brought him in for. That was what he had to do to get back home.

this is crime fiction where crime takes a backseat to character development, a coming-of-age novel whose protagonist had never been a child, a road trip novel with a body count.

sixteen-year-old east has run the yard of a drug house in the boxes, a winding neighborhood in l.a., for two years. he's smart, humorless and practical, and he's not in the game for the glamor or the bravado, but because at sixteen it's the most lucrative thing he's qualified to do. it's also a job for which he is well-suited: he's quiet, deliberate, calculating, cautious - but his is a caution born of common sense, not fear. and despite living on his own, sleeping in an overturned cardboard box in the basement of an abandoned building, avoiding his own mother's addictions, despite having a younger brother who has gone full-tilt into thug life, despite having been exposed to a full spectrum of horrors in his young life:

Unlike the boys, who came from homes with mothers or from dens of boys, East slept alone, somewhere no one knew. He had been at the old house before them, and he had seen things they had never seen. He had seen a reverend shot on the walk, a woman jump off a roof. He had seen a helicopter crash into trees and a man, out of his mind, pick up a downed power cable and stand, illuminated. He had seen the police come down, and still the house continued on.

for all that, east hasn't become completely hardened. he's still a thinking, feeling, questioning young man with a more sensitive nature than many of his peers.

after the police raid "his" drug house, east is given a "redeem yourself" assignment by his uncle-kingpin fin to join three other boys on a road trip to wisconsin where east's badass thirteen-year-old brother ty is supposed to shoot a witness set to testify in court against fin's interests.

and once on the open road together, two thousand miles and the oldest of them just twenty years old, outside of the narrow confines and lack of options their hometown offers, east sees that the world is much bigger than what he's seen of it so far, the criminal life is not inevitable, and he finds himself at the crossroads where a different adult future is possible.

but there are also different dangers, away from the more racially diverse populace of l.a., and four young black men stand out in certain towns across the vast white belly of america.

"East. We ain't in the woods anymore. There's a hundred cops right over there. And the longer we stay here, the blacker we get."

the traits that make east perfect for running a yard also make him a good choice to guide us into this story - he's a watcher, an observer, and we experience all through the eyes of a black teenager somewhat apart from the other boys and also very conscious of being scrutinized for "otherness" by the wary white gaze of strangers.

even among other criminals, there isn't an automatic camaraderie that transcends race; transactions are tainted by casual racism, which east absorbs and deflects, not willing to give anyone power over him.

"These ain't the low-end Saturday-night specials city niggers use," said the man, licking his lips. "No offense."

There it was. East saw it fly out and watched it sink. Just a stone in the water.

the nature of the road trip lends itself to introspection, with the hypnotic sameness of the highway's yellow lines stretching into forever, the backseat catnaps and rushed meals from fast food joints, the high spirits of teenagers away from home for the first time, full of the pride of being entrusted with a very adult mission and the giddiness of unsupervised adventure, seeing the world from a different vantage point, making their own decisions, which are frequently very poor ones indeed.

it's another fantastic debut novel - strong writing, strong voice, wonderful descriptive passages both visual: Gym muscles down his belly like puppies in a litter and philosophical: They'd done some things right. But nobody would tell you how many things were left; it's meditative without dragging (much), and it's a fresh take on literary crime writing.

change the setting from l.a. to baltimore, and this novel would be a perfectly satisfying season of the wire where east would obviously be

although east's little brother is more of a pill than bug. and i guess the book would have to be retitled "orioles," which is definitely a step down, title-wise.

it's a great first novel - a little draggy at the end, but definitely one to watch in the crime-lit genre.

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Richard (on hiatus).
160 reviews180 followers
August 15, 2020
If you enjoy the tough, minimal lyricism of authors like Michael Farris Smith and the naturalistic, gritty street life described in the novels of Richard Price, you’ll love Dodgers by Bill Beverley.
The novel centres around East, a 15 year old ‘watcher’ for a drugs house in a broken down suburb of Los Angeles. He’s a tough cookie, quiet and disciplined, controlling a group of ‘yard boys’ for Fyn, the house/ business owner.
The narrative takes the shape of a road trip as East is tasked with a violent mission along with three unlikely (sometimes comical) accomplices, bizarrely including his psychopathic thirteen year old brother Ty!
The images of America, as the motley crew cover thousands of miles in their old red van, probably won’t be snapped up by US tourist board anytime soon. They pass through scruffy rural scenes, tiny fly blown towns, litter and graffiti strewn suburbs, the rusting remains of bygone industry - a lonely often barren landscape.
This literary thriller is quiet and understated making it all the more powerful. There is a pointed humour but the overwhelming atmosphere is melancholy as East begins the long journey to adulthood and self realisation.
I’m fascinated to see what Bill Beverly writes next.
Profile Image for James Thane.
Author 8 books6,910 followers
February 7, 2022
This is a haunting, beautifully written book about a young Los Angeles gang banger named East. As the book opens, East is the head of a crew of sentries who are guarding the approach to a drug den. But when the police suddenly raid the place, something goes wrong, and the boys East has placed on the perimeter to sound the first alarm fail to do so. The house gets hit with only East's last-second panicked warning to those inside.

East's uncle, Fin, who runs this and other drug houses, is naturally unhappy. But instead of punishing East, Fin sends him on a new mission. With three other young men, including his younger brother, East is to drive cross-county to Wisconsin and kill a man who is prepared to testify against Fin.

For East, who has never been out of his neighborhood in L.A., it's like being asked to go to the dark side of the moon. But he accepts the task and rolls out of the city with his compatriots. What follows is a dark crime novel bolted to a coming-of age story/road trip. Despite the criminal record he has already built as a very young boy, East is a sympathetic character and Beverly tells his story with a great deal of empathy. As the boys cross the country a new world unfolds before East and the journey takes him to places physically and emotionally that he never could have imagined.

This is a book that should appeal to large numbers of crime fiction readers, especially to those who are fans of Richard Price and Bill Beverly is clearly an author to be watching for.
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews716 followers
July 19, 2018
This is a great book. Really good. Thanks to karen who brought me to this book with her review! And a great debut novel by Bill Beverly. One of my reading highlights of 2016.
I would say, ... it's a sort of modern Oliver Twist story. Only more grim. Yes, it's a rather bleak, sad crime story, but more than that it is a coming of age story. It's a story about a road trip. And this trip is not for fun. The cover of the book is sort of symbolic: a deserted gas station, bleak, deserted.
It's the story of East, a young guy in a criminal gang in a big city. When the house he is 'guarding', a drugs house, is taken by the police, he gets another assignment from his gang boss: go cross country with three other young guns by car, to kill a judge....
East is a young 'antihero'... can't help but feel for him and sympathize for him, despite his criminal background. A kid really, surviving as best as he can and even as honest as he can, despite the criminal nature of some of his acts.
The writing is what I call 'poetic and realistic at the same time'. 'Sparse', not a word too much, beautiful in its simplicity. Looking forward to new work of this writer.
4.5 stars, it is well worth it. Recommended!
Curious what this writer will come up with next.
Afterword: the more I think about this book, the more I appreciate it. Very good.

Dodgers is itself something entirely original: a gripping literary crime novel with a compact cast whose intimate story opens up to become a reflection on the nature of belonging and reinvention...
Profile Image for Es Summer .
72 reviews161 followers
June 2, 2016

Gritty, brutally wicked, yet poetic and tender, Dodgers is one of the best written literary crime novels I have read. From the first page, I was hooked into the world of edgy delinquents and LA's street gangs.

I do not read a lot of crime novels, due to the fact that they do not make me feel much.
I don't care about a murder investigation if the story is plot driven and not character driven. If there is not much character development, I am not interested to explore the story and analyze the events.
But imagine a story that has it all; characters that are so vivid and alive that they feel real and a plot that twirls around in your brain edges, long after you finish.

Dodgers zooms in on the lives of hoodlums while they go on a mission.
We see the story through the eyes of East, a quiet kid, with a haunting new voice that reminds me of Holden Caufield. Both narrators look at the world with a vivid intensity and clever observation that somehow leaves everyone revealed.
Both characters admire the innocence of children in a world where innocence is so short-lived.

The power in this story lies within the well-crafted characters, the imaginative universe of in hoodies covered criminals. It makes you think about the people who do not live in prosperity, about teenagers who live more on the streets than in a safe home, not feeling accepted, not belonging anywhere and it breaks your heart.
A difficult life forcing barely-teens to show aggression, being hyper vigilant and not trusting anyone.
The social injustice in this book really got to me, because I realized due to their disconnect of 'normal' society, they created their own rules, their own mini society.

East is one of the most conflicting characters I have had the pleasure (or not) of knowing.
His -mostly - poorly choices makes him dangerous, but not all that unlikable, for some reason. His mistrust to this world gets to you, his silence is the loudest scream and his loneliness is heartbreaking. His poignant look on the world makes this a breathtaking read.

Dodgers is a book full of questionable morals and hoodlums-gone-wild, yet so beautifully written, more than a crime novel, more than just a story perhaps.
It lives.
Even after finishing.

4 stars.

Profile Image for Faith.
1,822 reviews499 followers
November 19, 2020
This is a wonderful book about the coming of age of 15 year old East, who works as lookout for a Los Angeles drug dealer. When his job blows up, East, his estranged, 13 year old brother Ty and two older boys, Michael and Walter, are sent by the drug dealer on a cross country mission to Wisconsin. East is preternaturally calm and mature, but it is the sociopathic Ty who drives much of the action in this story which takes place over the course of about one month.

The author respected his characters enough to make them real, rather than stereotypes. It took only about 20 pages before I was completely rooting for East. I so wanted him to turn out ok. However, in this moving and suspenseful book, whether East would have any future at all was constantly in doubt. The scene between East and his mother made me cry, as did the knowledge that he would rather sleep inside a cardboard box in a basement crawl space rather than stay in her house. But there is no self pity in this book. All four boys just get on with business.

The book has a fair amount of violence. It also has humor, mostly derived from the need of four black boys in a van to appear non threatening to the mostly white people in middle America. The title is a reference to the Dodgers shirts that they are all given to wear because "white people love baseball".

The writing was poetic and honest. This is the author's first book and I hope there are many more to come.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
Profile Image for Julie .
4,000 reviews58.9k followers
December 8, 2016
Dodgers by Bill Beverly is a 2016 Crown publication.

Good, but not what I was expecting.

An L.A. Gang member called ‘East’, finds himself in a bind when the house he is supposed to ‘watch’ is popped, causing him to lose his position. But, his uncle, Fin, offers him another 'opportunity' by sending him off on a road trip with his younger half -brother and two other guys to kill a judge before he can testify against him.

So, begins a long road trip style journey for East, who is only fifteen, something I often seemed to forget. But, immediately the gang goes off script, landing themselves in all sorts of situations and eventually find they are at odds, often fighting amongst themselves.

Along the way, East experiences other parts of the world for the first time and begins to ponder on the direction his life is taking, and take stock. The question is if East will survive the trip, and if he will find a way out of the life he seems destined to succumb to.

This is a crime novel, but not in the traditional sense. I noticed after reading the book, that many folks felt the novel was more of a ‘coming of age’ tale than a crime story. I would have to agree with that categorization as well.

The author’s prose has been compared to many other heavy hitting authors, which proves this is a special debut and again, I can’t complain one iota about the raw honesty in which this book was written.

However, for me there were a few problems, one of which was my expectations going in. I was not expecting a ‘coming of age’ story, and wish I'd known that going in. Another main issue I had was with the pacing. I nearly put this book aside because it wasn’t doing one thing for me and I despite the gritty context and the lyrical dialogue, something I usually just adore in a crime novel, I zoned out and lost track, had to re-read paragraphs, and basically muddled through large segments of the book, and that probably caused me to miss out on some of the complexities and nuances others enjoyed about the book.

I also had to take into account the plausibility factor, which stretched my limits, and I’m usually pretty lenient in that department.

However, I am glad I decided to stick with it, and now that I’ve had time to reflect on it a little, I believe the story is worth the accolades and see why it’s been so highly recommended. East is a very memorable character, and meeting him was worth the extra effort it took to finish the book.

But, I am still stuck on how to rate the book. From a critical thinking stand point the book deserves the highest rating possible, but based on my personal enjoyment of the book, I would have to knock off a couple of stars.

Usually, when I find myself facing that dilemma, I stick to the middle ground, but I feel the writing is worth a better rating than that, so – 3.5 rounded to 4

Profile Image for Beverly.
785 reviews279 followers
March 13, 2018
Gritty, urban saga, Dodgers, kept me guessing and worrying about what would happen to its 15 year old protagonist, East, a boy with many problems., not least of which is his violent 13 year old brother, Ty. Easy works as a yard boy, keeping an eye on the crack house, which his mentor owns, but said house is lost, after a police bust and Easy must go on a dangerous road trip across the country to seek revenge for its dissolution. A quick read, with some surprises at the end which I didn't see coming, Dodgers is a home run.
Profile Image for Liz.
1,962 reviews2,410 followers
February 5, 2017
Isn't it wild how a book can grab you immediately? Just a few pages and you're hooked. Dodgers is like that. Beverly starts off describing The Boxes, the slums, and you're there. First we are in East’s world and then Beverly flips the page and East enters ours. A boy that's probably never left the Boxes, let alone LA, is driving towards Wisconsin. Unfortunately what starts out so hot cools off and slows down as they travel. I know it would be hard to maintain that intensity but a little something extra was needed to maintain interest through this section. It picks back up when they reach their destination. But it's up and down, fast and slow throughout the book.

The characters are well developed. I know these boys are criminals, but it's hard not to feel sympathy for them. Not that they are likeable, but they have not had an easy life. They are the proverbial fish out of water. It's interesting to see how they carve out their individual lives for themselves given the circumstances.

I loved the premise of this book. It's a very different sort of coming of age story. These boys realize their “place” in the world. At one point, when they discuss the differences between two murders, it really shows. The book paints a dismal picture.

I didn't like this book as much as I expected from the beginning. But it paints a very realistic picture and I admire it for that. In the end, I'd rate it 3.5 stars rounding up to 4.

Profile Image for ☮Karen.
1,464 reviews9 followers
March 15, 2016
4.5 stars. Gorgeous writing about such an ugly topic:  Four teen boys in an L.A. street gang take a cross-country road trip to kill a Wisconsin judge.  Boys sent to do what most men won't do. Their risk taking and stupidity made me very nervous, a feeling I did not at first  appreciate.  A book about gang members  is definitely  not my usual preference; but I think the author did a great job formulating the characters and helping us understand why they were the way they were, without having to agree with their actions.  The main character, Easy aka East, can sense that maybe what they're going to do isn't the smartest move, while his half brother is the complete opposite, excitable, ready and willing to be the elected shooter.  Opposites, yet still family... can their relationship be salvaged? And how many of the original four will complete their mission?

Sometimes crimes are committed and go unpunished, at least not by the law.  Maybe the punishments outside of the law, those inflicted within yourself and by ordinary citizens,  can have just as great an impact.  Great book, but maybe not for everyone. I loved the ending and the boy, East.

ARC won from LibraryThing.com.
Profile Image for Misty.
291 reviews145 followers
January 23, 2019
Dodgers, by author Bill Beverly, is a YA novel, haunting and beautiful, less “Y” and more “A”, filled with an intoxicating combination of poetic prose and the gritty language of the streets.

The story follows East, a young LA gang member, as he leaves the dangerous streets of his city for the first time, sent on a mission to pull off a hit ordered by his uncle. East, his brother Ty, and two others (Walter and Michael) head off for Wisconsin, armed with the resources, if not the experience, that they will need to get the job done.

To see the journey through East’s eyes is to be caught between an adult and a child. He has seen the horrors of life and death, but he marvels at the mountains, is ensnared by the allure of the Vegas strip and shivers naively in the first bone-chilling cold he has ever known. Author Beverley is a brilliant wordsmith, giving a voice to East that portrays him as more adult than his years should warrant, stuck in that vast in-between space that calls in both directions:

East liked driving here—the flat, unruffled fields with no one in sight, blind stubble mown down into splinters, maybe a tractor, maybe an irrigation rig like a long line of silver stitches across the fabric of earth. The flatness. There was more in the flatness than he’d expected. The van’s shadow lay long, and the fields traded colors. The boys slept in intervals or complained. Riding in a car for more than a few hours, he thought, was like suspended animation—somewhere under the layers of frost, your heart beat. To the left, a thunderstorm hovered, prowling its own road.

Know going in that the YA genre label is a bit of misdirection, as the language alone would preclude this from being appropriate for younger teenagers. Racial epithets and adult language, as well as episodes of profound violence, are many and varied. They are, however, as important to the story as the characters themselves.

Brutal and heart breaking, poetic and raw, this read will stay with you long after the cover has been closed.
Profile Image for Ron.
380 reviews86 followers
May 15, 2016
Dodgers is the story of a boy named East, a seasoned gang member at only 15 years old already in charge of a “yard”. The initial setting takes place in what’s been termed The Boxes, the run-down blocks of houses in Los Angeles that East calls home. But this is more than a story about gangs running drugs in the poor section of a city. After the house he guards is taken down by police, East is asked to do another job. Murder a man in Wisconsin. What comes in a form of a question is not always a question. So when East leaves L.A. behind, along with 3 other members (one being his younger and possibly more dangerous brother), I didn’t know if they’d be coming back, or what lay down that long road into the Heartland.

What I did find on along that road was a very likeable character in East, and a reminder that although people are different, at our core we are not. Our situations in this life can certainly be different. The places we live, parenting, influences, peers. How others look at us, what they see, and how that effects us. This isn’t exactly the point of the story, but I couldn’t help but think of these things. Also, are we made of our past, and can it be left behind?

Beverly’s first book felt very real to me. It placed me smack in the middle of East’s journey and the different struggles we face. Not all of it was absolutely perfect. The ending left me with an empty feeling, but it was no less than authentic.
Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews322 followers
September 25, 2016
4 stars

As the 2016 baseball season dwindles down to the Fall Classic with the Los Angeles Dodgers having sewn up the National League West division, I thought I'd slip in a curveball (as Bill Beverly has done with his remarkable debut, Dodgers.)

Despite the title, this dark, gritty, (and, dare I say it without turning off everyone) coming of age novel has zero to do with baseball (and despite the black-and-white Four-Level cover photo, not a whole heck of a lot to do with Los Angeles, either.) It does feature, however, some pretty intense themes (at times reminiscent of a West Coast Rchard Price with the merest whiff of Quentin Tarantino, in his precocious Reservoir Dogs- days.) It features the (quite appropriately named, as you'll see) East, a sage, much-wiser-than-his-years 15 year-old black kid, who lives in The Boxes, a crime-ridden downtown-adjacent LA suburb, who spends most of his days and nights as lookout for his uncle's most lucrative crack house. When East and his posse lapse in vigilance one afternoon, allowing the police to make a sneak, though unsuccessful, raid of the house (leading to a shootout, the death of a neighborhood girl, and the loss of the crackhouse), East's uncle lays down an ultimatum: Road trip east, with three of his (young, black) posse to lily-white semi-rural Wisconsin to make a "hit" on a witness to an unrelated Federal drug case.

I know what you're thinking: Didn't you say the protagonist was 15?!?. Yup. Not even old enough to legally drive. More bizarre and creepy: though one of his road trip posse/fellow assassins is old enough to drive, another is East's half brother Ty (a trigger-happy bad-ass), who's 13!!!. Four black kids from the ghetto, who've never even left the mean streets of LA before, are gonna make this "hit" in Middle America?!? C'mon Bill Beverly, what kind of fools do you take us for?!?

Amazingly this road trip book (heavy on atmospherics, believable dialog, and, ultimately, introspection) works: so well that I inhaled this book without really batting an eyelash to the potential implausibilities (and in retrospect, I'll admit there were plenty). I didn't care. There was just something about these characters (particularly East, a kid locked into making some very un-kidlike life choices) that was so utterly compelling, I couldn't stop reading.

Unlike our protagonists (who couldn't give two shits about the LA Dodgers, and were just wearing their team apparel to blend in on their road trip, "coz you know, white people love their baseball"), I'm, as always, rooting for the Dodgers this year to win the Series. I'm also hoping like heck Dodgers the novel finds its audience. It (and its author, Bill Beverly) are champion-caliber. Recommended.
Profile Image for Paul O’Neill.
Author 3 books172 followers
February 6, 2017
Here’s how it went, for me.

Interesting setup > Unique premise > Good mix of characters on a journey > Interesting group dynamic leads to fractious event > Group carries out interesting task with good plot twist > ABSOLUTE BOREDOM FOR FAAAR TOO LONG IN OHIO > Semi-interesting ending.

This started off as a four star book and ended on two stars. I’ve seen lots of positive reviews regarding Dodgers but in the end, the poor character building and absolutely mind numbingly boring third act ruined it. It does have some redeeming features, but it’s not one that I’d recommend.

Apparently it’s been optioned as a movie. I’ve got a feeling a movie would be better than the book in this instance.
Profile Image for Paul.
888 reviews69 followers
January 26, 2016
Dodgers – A Brilliant Debut Novel

Dodgers is my standout debut thriller of the year that will take your breath away, this is the literary world’s The Wire. Usually when I see the words literary crime thriller I tend to shudder, as the story is neither one nor the other but falls between the two. Dodgers has made me question my understanding of literary crime as it delivers on so many levels, it is as addictive as crack cocaine!

Dodgers follows the story of East, a drug gangs house lookout at a crack den in The Boxes in Los Angeles, he is fifteen and knows what he is doing. But things go wrong when a police raid takes place and a young girl is shot, he thinks he will be held responsible by Fin the gang leader and dealt with. What he is told instead is that he is going across country as part of a hit squad on a judge who is hiding out in Wisconsin.

Fin has assembled a four man team, which includes East and his thirteen year old half-brother, Ty, who speaks little but loves guns. There is Walter who may be larger than life but he is an intelligent teenager and Michael the eldest of them who is there as the sensible person to stop them killing each other. They are given a van that looks nothing special, but looks can be deceiving, and this is the beginning of a long road trip, especially as East has never been out of LA.

The journey from LA to Wisconsin is not without incident, and also helps East to grow and see things he has never encountered before. Through East’s eyes we see a world as he sees it, malfunctioning, that needs to be closely observed, that seems inescapable to him, he feels he is stuck in his punishing world.

I loved the way in which the decisions that each of the characters make throughout the book shows that they can be at odds with each other, but are loyal foot soldiers to the cause. They also discover that their impulses and split second decision making will either doom them or save them. East especially is on a voyage of discovery and what sort of young man he wants to become. The characters in this book are remarkable, flawed and believable, all out to become someone else.

Dodgers is one of the most enjoyable crime thrillers I have read in a while, for a debut it is flawless and shows us what an exciting talent the literary world has in Bill Beverly. The prose Beverly uses is engaging and colourful, descriptive and expressive, all of which draws you further in to the story, with some wonderful imagery, being the back drop and colours of America.

I believe I have read a literary crime thriller that will sit alongside many of the classics in years to come, and rightly hold its own.
Profile Image for Emma.
971 reviews966 followers
December 13, 2015
This is not the kind of book that I would ordinarily have picked for myself and I went into it with little expectation that I would enjoy it. Yet, from the outset, I was gripped by the voice of East, a young LA gang member. If this is a crime novel, it is crime in the way of DeLillo or Hunter S. Thomson. It is powerful extrapolation of character, the immediate immersion in a lifestyle so different from your own, the uncertainty of what the hell is going to happen next, the destruction of what you think you know.

There were sections I felt worked better than others, but the poetry and rhythm of the writing carried me through East's journey. Word and action intertwined to create a narrative of exploration and growth that was surprising, unsettling, distinctive. I felt like I was given a rare glimpse into someone that I will never know.

Overall, a powerful story and an author to watch.

Many thanks to Bill Beverly and RealReads for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Makis Dionis.
461 reviews106 followers
November 27, 2017
L.A. -> Wisconsin -> Ohaio.. Όλα είναι δρόμος... Κ λίγο gangsta για το ρου της ιστορίας... Χωρίς ηθικά πλεονεκτήματα κ επαναστάτες...με το βλέμμα της ψυχής ενός εφήβου Niger, επιτομή στο road trip
Profile Image for Carole (Carole's Random Life).
1,684 reviews456 followers
March 25, 2016
This review can also be found at Carole's Random Life.

I liked this book but I didn't love it as I had hoped that I would. The focus of this book was really on the characters with the plot taking a lesser role. I thought the book was really slow at times and was fairly easy to set aside. However, the writing had a nice flow which I really enjoyed. Overall, I found this book to be a good read.

This book was very character driven. I think one of my main problems with the story is that I never connected with any of the characters. Sure, I liked East well enough but more in a acquaintance kind of way. Even after reading the whole book and spending all of those pages with East, I am still not sure that I really understand him. I felt even less of a connection to the rest of the group that go on the trip, Ty, Walter, and Micheal.

Before reading the story, I had expected a lot of action. A book about gang members going on a road trip to murder a witness sounds action packed - at least in my mind. There wasn't nearly as much action as I had expected with much of the story being spent in the van on the trip and trying to decide what they should do next. The second half of the book got a little more interesting for me when the group gets split up. At that point, the story becomes completely East's story with his life looking very different. It is apparent that East is thinking about taking a different path in his life.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a coming of age story that is a little different. I do think that most readers are going to enjoy this one a bit more than I did. This is the first book by Bill Beverly that I have had a chance to read. I enjoyed his writing style and would definitely read more of his work in the future.

I received an advance reader edition of this book from Crown Publishing via First to Read for the purpose of providing an honest review.

Initial Thoughts
This was okay for me. The real focus of the book was the characters with the plot taking a back seat. It dragged at times but it was a decent read overall.
Profile Image for George K..
2,338 reviews287 followers
November 18, 2017
Βαθμολογία: 9/10

Το βιβλίο κυκλοφόρησε μέσα στους πρώτους μήνες του 2016 στις Ηνωμένες Πολιτείες και τράβηξε αμέσως την προσοχή των αναγνωστών και των κριτικών, όντας υποψήφιο για πολλά βραβεία και κερδίζοντας κάμποσα από δαύτα. Τόσο η περίληψη της ιστορίας όσο και οι ως επί το πλείστον θετικές κριτικές μου κίνησαν το ενδιαφέρον και ήλπιζα να το δούμε μια μέρα στα ελληνικά, χωρίς όμως να το πιστεύω και πολύ. Τόσα ωραία βιβλία δεν έχουν μεταφραστεί, γιατί αυτό; Και όμως! Οι εκδόσεις Στερέωμα το έφεραν στην Ελλάδα και εγώ δεν άργησα να το αγοράσω (παρά την κάπως τσιμπημένη τιμή) και φυσικά να το διαβάσω.

Και, κυρίες και κύριοι, είναι σίγουρα ένα από τα καλύτερα βιβλία που διάβασα φέτος. Από τις πρώτες κιόλας σελίδες κατάλαβα ότι και η ιστορία θα μου αρέσει, αλλά και το όλο στιλ γραφής και αφήγησης. Πραγματικά, ο συγγραφέας δεν χρειάστηκε και πολλή ώρα για να με μπάσει στον κάπως γκρίζο και μουντό κόσμο της ιστορίας, να με κάνει ένα με τους χαρακτήρες (και ειδικά με τον νεαρό Ηστ), να με εντυπωσιάσει με τον ιδιαίτερο τρόπο να περιγράφει τις διάφορες καταστάσεις, τα τοπία, τους χαρακτήρες, τις σκέψεις και τα συναισθήματα του βασικού πρωταγωνιστή. Η πλοκή κρύβει αρκετή δύναμη, προσφέρει δυνατές σκηνές και αγχωτικές στιγμές, ενώ μας δίνεται η δυνατότητα να δούμε μια άλλη πλευρά, μια διαφορετική εικόνα της Αμερικής.

Δεν ξέρω αν είναι ένα βιβλίο για όλα τα γούστα και για όλες τις ορέξεις, όμως είναι ένα ιδιαίτερο και αρκετά δυνατό βιβλίο, κράμα δραματικού θρίλερ και ιστορίας ενηλικίωσης, με πρωταγωνιστές κυρίως εφήβους του περιθωρίου. Σίγουρα δεν είναι άριστο βιβλίο και ίσως ούτε απόλυτα πειστικό ως προς μερικά πράγματα που έκαναν οι νεαροί πρωταγωνιστές, όμως, προσωπικά, μου άφησε τις καλύτερες των εντυπώσεων. Απόλαυσα την ιστορία και ξετρελάθηκα με το όλο συγγραφικό ύφος και στιλ. Ένα μπράβο στις εκδόσεις Στερέωμα που το έφεραν στην Ελλάδα και ένα μπράβο για την όλη δουλειά στην μετάφραση και την εμφάνιση (μερικά λαθάκια ξέφυγαν, αλλά τίποτα το τρομερό!).
Profile Image for Eric.
396 reviews30 followers
September 5, 2017
This was a fine book and highly recommended.

Some are calling this a "coming of age" story, but I dispute that sort of description. It's not really about growing up, more so than growing "out." It's also more like a sort of teenage road story, rather than a nostalgic look at growing up.

The story deals with four, inner city teenagers involved in the gang life, instructed to drive cross country to complete a violent task at the orders of their street gang boss.

Along the way, revelations are made and secrets told and these aptly enhance the tale.

Oddly, in this collection of four youths, the participants are made out to be the cream of the crop when it comes to street thugs. One being a somewhat premier, all-around sociopathic criminal at the age of 13.

While reading the book, one may surmise "why" should anyone care about any of these characters, when soon, the thoughts of redemption for the main character East, keeps one hoping that will be reason enough.

Others have compared this novel to the writing of Richard Price and George Pelecanos and that is a fair comparison. Like those writers, Bill Beverly's novel declares these are the people involved, these are their lives and behaviors and whether or not one likes them, this is just how things are.

Profile Image for Trudie.
520 reviews553 followers
December 5, 2016
This is a very accomplished debut crime novel by Bill Beverly, author of a previous non-fictional work on criminal fugitives.

I love a good crime novel but prefer them to have solid, dare one say, "literary writing" as well as page-turning plotting.
Dodgers came as close to anything I have read this year to hitting that mark.

This is a road trip story, but a road trip with a dark mission. A clandestine journey eastwards with an odd sort of criminal fellowship. An enigmatic sibling rivalry, plans that seem destined to fail and the fate of the inscrutable, ever watchful 15yr old known as East, all made for engrossing reading.

If I have a criticism, then it is with the novels last third where I thought the momentum built up was lost and we shifted to a much more plodding pace. This section took place in Ohio and really left me feeling I might leave that state off my next road trip ;).

Read this for an atmospheric, almost stark urban crime caper but also read it for East, my favourite fictional character of 2016.
Profile Image for Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine).
189 reviews224 followers
March 15, 2016
Read more reviews at www.litwitwineanddine.com

Dodgers is not what I would call a mystery/thriller or even a crime novel in the strictest sense. It's definitely more of a coming-of-age story. East is a young L.A. gang member who has recently failed to protect a house he was in charge of from a police raid. His Uncle, the leader, sends him to Wisconsin along with 3 other gang members, including his younger half brother, to execute a judge who is to be a key witness. He gives them new identities, a nondescript van, some money, and a number to call for further instructions (ask for Abraham Lincoln) and sends them on their way.

Along the journey they take some incredibly stupid risks which I found to be a little unlikely. Those risks lead to a series of events which divide the group and force East to make choices about the kind of person he wants to be and what lengths he is willing to go to become that person.

The characters were, for the most part, quite complex. I was somewhat surprised at their ages. So young... Especially in East's case. I think he was very young to have the relative maturity he was shown to have. And his brother at only 13... It's a terrible reality how very, very young many people are who become involved in drugs and gangs.

My main criticism of this book is that the first 75% moved very slowly for me. There were times when I found myself bored and contemplated giving up. I'm glad I didn't as I really loved the last 25% of the book and its ending.

Thanks to Crown Publishing via NetGalley for providing me with a free ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Kaggelo.
35 reviews41 followers
September 9, 2019
Εντυπωσιακό ντεμπούτο. Πολυ καλη αναπτυξη χαρακτηρων, δυνατο στορυ, αυθεντικη γραφη. Ανακατεμα πολλων υλικων αλλά στις σωστες δο��εις. Δραση και λυρισμος σε τελεια ισορροπια. Το κεντρικο θεμα μετατρεπεται σε προσχημα, το ταξιδι στην αμερικανικη ενδοχωρα ειναι ενα ταξιδι προς αναζητηση ταυτοτητας. Η επακολουθη φυγη παιρνει στη πορεια αλλες διαστασεις πιο εσωτερικες. Το μονο αρνητικο η μεταφραση που ειναι προβληματικη σε αρκετα σημεια, ιδιως στους διαλογους.
Profile Image for Trish.
1,352 reviews2,396 followers
Shelved as 'put-aside'
April 26, 2017
For some reason this didn't work for me. I was listening to the audio and the narrator, J.D. Jackson, is African American. Nothing wrong with that, except that the author is white, and this is about gangland boys looking for a key witness outside of South Central L.A., where they live.

Far be it from me to say who can explain what is a valid experience, but the first time I started listening to it I felt a distance from the material. It just didn't seem authentic--the boys were noticing and discussing things that might have gone unremarked in the culture in which they lived, except that it could have been a hard copy of an episode of the TV serial The Wire.

The second time I tried to listen I got a little further, but ultimately there was something about the ratio of conversation to physical movement and events that seemed off.

807 reviews76 followers
April 12, 2016
Definitely very well written. The story was very much character driven and I wanted a little more of a story. Regardless of that, the characters (especially East) were so well written that I will not forget them any time soon. Author did a great job.
Profile Image for Mike W.
161 reviews21 followers
May 19, 2016
When author Adam Sternbergh recently tweeted that readers looking for a great thriller would do well to check out Bill Beverly's new novel "Dodgers" it got my attention. When he described the plot as "... if kid-characters from The Wire went on a mythic road trip" I was all in. I have to say, that description is something close to perfect and if that sounds appealing then you're very likely to enjoy this novel.

East is a 15 year old in South Central L.A. who has worked the past two years supervising a crew of other teens in watching one of drug lord Fin's many crack houses. While things have gone smoothly under his leadership, the novel opens on a day where nothing goes as planned and East ends the day wondering if it might cost him his life.

After being summoned to meet with Fin, East learns he's lost his assignment but he's asked to take on a new one. This one will require several days travel and an ultimate mission with very serious consequences. The novel unfolds when East accepts and the journey begins a long road trip with 3 other young men, one of whom is his estranged and unpredictable half brother.

I'm working hard here not to give any spoilers so suffice it to say that the novel works because Beverly has crafted a tight thriller but has packed it with great dialog, interesting characters and multiple, mostly believable twists. Though the subject matter is quite serious and sobering, the dialog at times is darkly comical and there were more than a few moments where I thought to myself, "wait, should I be laughing about this?" I probably shouldn't have been, but funny is funny. Beverly's ability to develop several distinct characters despite the lean format was impressive. East is the most fully developed and in spite of his many flaws he becomes a quite likeable protagonist, and his story engenders a good deal of thought about choice and agency in the criminal world.

Dodgers is an impressive debut novel and though I'd classify it as general fiction it definitely has a literary feel to it. I wouldn't be surprised to see this as a screenplay in the next couple of years as the story would likely lend itself to film quite well. In any case, it should please any reader looking for a crime thriller but it would be a mistake to restrict the recommendation to that one group. This is a book that is likely to please many readers who don't often venture into the genre.

Note: I received an ARC free via NetGalley for the purpose of review.
Profile Image for Raven.
720 reviews202 followers
May 16, 2016
Widely billed as The Wire crossed with road trip movie, I think that this book actually defies the simplicity of this description. In the character of gang member East, who was the absolute stand out for me, Beverly has created something really quite special. This is a bildungsroman for the modern age, with East in particular embracing the possibilities of life outside of the tough LA neighbourhood he inhabits, and the lawless life he leads. As the book progresses and his cohorts fall by the wayside on their cross country mission to murder a trial witness, I found the exploration and growth of East’s character spellbinding throughout. Unlike other reviewers, who bemoan the slower pace of the second half of the book, I thought this worked perfectly, and gave Beverly total reign to explore and describe not only the changes within East, but also aligning these developments in juxtaposition with the new landscape and way of life he undertakes- the urban versus the rural. The writing is flawless throughout with Beverly being as comfortable with the rat-a-tat rhythm of the young teenagers’ dialogue, and conveying the brutality of their world, to describing elements of the landscape they travel through with the lyricism of some of the best naturalistic American writers. An absolute gem and highly recommended.
Profile Image for Jim Thomsen.
479 reviews183 followers
October 28, 2022
Sometimes it's simply enough to say that a novel is great, and that you'd probably be a better person for having read it, and that's the case with DODGERS.

All I can really say beyond that is that if you're not captivated by the audacity and deliciousness of its stunningly original premise — four teenage L.A. gangbangers who know nothing but their inner-city neighborhood are sent on a road trip to Wisconsin by their shot-caller to kill a judge, and epic misadventures of the semi-mortal sort follow — let alone its poetically smooth execution, I don't know how else to persuade you. If you can't seen keening poignancy in the POV voice of East, the 15-year-old who tells this tale, a boy forced to become a man before he had a chance to ever be a boy — "He was no fun, and they respected him, for though he was young, he had none in him of what they most hated in themselves: their childishness. He had never been a child. Not that they had seen" — then I submit your heart is stone. And if you can't see a glimmer of hope for an imagined America in which a black child on his own is treated with dignity and respect in a small town in Ohio — respect that he gives back as forcefully as he earns it — then I would truly hate to know how you cast your votes, let alone the reasons behind the choices.

DODGERS is a novel that gets you, whether you want to be gotten or not. It reminds you that the great glory of a good reading experience lies in the room you still allow in your heart and soul to get as well as to be gotten,
Profile Image for Brandon.
895 reviews234 followers
July 25, 2019
Bill Beverly’s debut novel Dodgers follows four teens as they ride from Los Angeles to suburban Wisconsin to carry out a hit on a judge in an upcoming drug case. Led by East, a fifteen-year old lookout for a drug dealer, who’s joined by his younger brother Ty, and two others, Michael and Walter, as they make the two thousand mile trek north.

This is like if the kids in Stand by Me went to leave a dead body rather than find one.

Coming-of-age novels can be pretty hit or miss when it comes to my taste. Bad coming-of-age novels like The Catcher in the Rye (yeah, I went there), leave me annoyed because of constant bitching and moaning from the main character. However, if done right, it can evoke feelings of nostalgia or in the case of Dodgers, leave me grateful that I wasn’t in a similar position as East or his brother Ty at their ages. The most I had to worry about was what I wanted for Christmas rather than looking out for cops or being fearful of dying by stray bullets.

The bulk of the novel takes place on the road in the mini-van or in small towns across America. As is often the case, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. When you add four teens to the mix, things will likely go about as smoothly as a stucco waterslide. So, when things go pear-shaped rather quickly, that’s where Beverly’s novel really shines. For a first-time novelist, Beverly really has a handle on how to build and build on tension. Moments where the boys are facing danger completely sucked me into the story and left me reading in huge chunks. I think they call that “un-put-down-able”.

My only real complaint is that the novel builds to what feels like a climax shortly after the mid-way point and then the rest of the story shifts to what feels like a different novel. This may be hard for some people to adjust to because it does feel a bit jarring. I don’t think anything that happens is bad or off-putting per se, but it did seem to drag a little at points.

Dodgers was a great read and definitely something I needed after spending nearly 1,000 pages in post-apocalyptic fiction the book prior. Championed by one of my favorite authors, Don Winslow, Dodgers is a memorable story by an author to watch for in the years ahead.
Profile Image for Jin.
601 reviews113 followers
March 6, 2022
The book description in the book says that this story would be for fans of "Huckleberry Finn". I agree that this feels like Huckleberry Finn in modern times with black main characters. But I'm not sure if this would survive as a classic over the time.
While I liked the story development with the diverse characters like Walter and TY, the beginning with East felt very slow which made it also difficult to feel sympathy for East, the main character. I liked the second half of the book much more when things start going wrong and when East is kind of awakening from his inner sleep. Anyway, I actually expected more action, fun and adventure a la Huckleberry Finn but it was still a nice read nonetheless.
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