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The Strivers' Row Spy

(Renaissance #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  233 ratings  ·  64 reviews
Stunning, suspenseful, and unforgettably evocative, Jason Overstreet’s debut novel glitters with the vibrant dreams and dangerous promise of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance, as one man crosses the perilous lines between the law, loyalty, and deadly lies…

For college graduate Sidney Temple, the Roaring Twenties bring opportunities even members of his accomplished black bourgeoi
Kindle Edition, 448 pages
Published August 30th 2016 by Dafina
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Carol Kean
Aug 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Jason Overstreet’s debut novel “The Strivers’ Row Spy” has inspired me to do a lot more research on real-life characters who come to life in historical fiction. Rare is the book that opens so many doors and makes me so eager to learn more about a time and place, the movers and shakers and people who defined an era.

Middlebury College, 1919. Only two black men have earned diplomas. "Momma had saved up for Lord knows how long" for Sidney Temple's graduation gift, shiny, black patent leather shoes.
Nandi Crawford
I know so much about Marcus Garvey from my parents who hail from the Caribbean and Panama. My mom spoke on how as kids during the 30s, they had the UNIA money and would play with it, call is "funny money". She said the adults wanted very much to return to Africa. Then, my father and uncle spoke about him with reverence. My uncle even had a picture of him on his wall at his place. This story is a fictional account of a man recruited out of college to be a spy for the Bureau of Investigation(the f ...more
Kim Walton
This book had a little-bit of everything going on with it. From action, to intrigue, to drama and I could name so much more. The read was a little long for me and at times boring. I thought that I was reading one of those 1070, plain yuck books at times that was forced on public school children.

Don't get me wrong the Sidney Temple adventure was good. However this book could have been shorten and it would have still been good. Sidney is the first black (negro) to join the FBI, courtesy of Hoover
African Americans on the Move Book Club
Jason Overstreet’s The Strivers’ Row Spy is a must read. Period. The book is written with so much detail that the reader feels as though he or she is right in the midst of the plot with the main character Sidney Temple. Jason Overstreet places the reader in an emotional sync with Sidney Temple and doesn’t ease up.
Right from the beginning of the novel till the end Overstreet keeps the language consistent and creates the mood and feeling of the 20’s. The feel of racial tension, the chill of the
Feb 09, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
Well, I tried.

I got almost 1/3rd of the way in on The Strivers' Row Spy before calling it quits. Life is too short and my TBR pile too high to continue reading a book that was only making me sigh in annoyance and wish I was doing something else other than reading.

I had high hopes too. It started with a great cover. I mean, good God, this is a gorgeous cover. It continued with a setting of a time period I like to read and the blurb made the story sound like it would be intriguing and exciting an
Yolanda Gore
Apr 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first read the synopsis of this books months ago, I immediately added it to my list of books to read because I'm a lover of Historical Fiction. I love giving new authors a chance because soon I'll be a new author and I want readers to give me a chance. Jason Overstreet proved that I made the right choice. The book started off slow, but it soon took off and had me wondering what was going to happen next. He did a great job of developing each character and showing the dimensions of each. I ...more
Mal Warwick
Sep 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
The 1920s were a pivotal era in African-American history. Black soldiers returning from service in World War I brought new energy to the slowly gathering movement for equal rights. Nationally, the NAACP, formed in 1909, was working for the passage of an anti-lynching law to combat the resurgence of racist violence sparked by the newly energized Ku Klux Klan. The editor of the NAACP journal, the brilliant scholar W.E.B. DuBois, was the organization's most visible and respected voice of authority. ...more
Stefanie Hughes
Great insight into Garvey and Du Bois position on race in America in the 1920s; very informative and interesting. I was expecting more action for a "spy" novel, but this is a more realistic portrayal (more patience), so the plot dragged some. I kept forgetting that it was set in the 20s because it lacked ambience and how exciting Harlem must have been during that period which garnered the four-star rating. I felt like it could have been set anywhere which was a little disappointing. Still, a loo ...more
Jul 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway.
This is an enlightening book. It presents a fascinating story of a young black college graduate hired to investigate the fledgling NAACP and the Marcus Garvey/W.E.B. DuBois feud. It has a well written main character, Sidney Temple, and a number of interesting secondary characters. The action is tense and fast paced. The locations are realistic. The historical context is engrossing.
Although a fictional novel, it has the sense of living history an
Donna Siebold
The premise of this book really sounded intriguing, an early black F.B.I. agent it hired to spy on Marcus Garvey, a black Jamaican who is trying to rally American blacks. He wants to keep the black and white societies separate and thinks blacks can only reach their potential by segregating themselves from the whites. He wants to do this by relocating the entire black population to Africa.

His fund-raising methods are not on the up-and-up and if you don't follow his lead he spurns you and may even
Sep 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Strivers’ Row Spy is an incredible debut novel. Jason Overstreet skillfully exposes readers to a frequently forgotten part of African American history - the 1920s Harlem Renaissance and the push for civil rights by two very different charismatic leaders W.E.B. Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. The Strivers’ Row Spy is fiction, but its setting, environment and many of its characters did exist. Jason Overstreet brings history to life in a way that entrances readers, encouraging them to ask questions ...more
Jul 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book through the Goodreads First Reads Program in exchange for an unbiased review.

I read this book to learn about 1920's USA, the fledgling FBI and race relations at the time, and era I knew very little about. Sidney Temple was an interesting character, one who the reader becomes attached to quickly and eagerly wants to know how things turn out, whether it be with his job as one of the only black agents working under Hoover, or with his wife Loretta who was another wonderful character
Kathleen Gray
Aug 31, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a really interesting book not least because while the era is familiar, the setting is not one we've seen much of in literature. Sidney is a fascinating character to take this journey; I enjoyed the details of his personal history and family as well as his interactions with real people. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC- this is a well written historical novel which allowed me to explore something I was not familiar with. You will like this if you are interested in the 1920s, historical fic ...more
Erik Deckers
Oct 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Striver's Row Spy is a great first novel that not only entertained, but I learned a lot from it as well. I remember learning some of the names and events in school, but it was interesting to see them explained and experienced first hand. I found myself doing a lot of online research and found that several of the characters were based on real people.

This is a definite must read for anyone who enjoys spy thrillers or wants to learn about African-American history in the early 1900s. I can't wait to
Jul 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-reads
This novel is incredible. I read more about African American history due to this novel. Definitely the kind of books which make readers dig deeper. Very well written and enlightening. I enjoyed reading this novel and would recommend others to read it.
I received a free hard copy of this book from the Goodreads First Reads program. Thanks a lot!
This book put me in the time where Dubois and Garvey really seemed alive and I had to choose a team and my team was family at the end. I loved this journey.

Lexxi Kitty
I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley, Dafina, and Kensington Books exchange for an honest review.

This is both the author’s first book (as far as I can tell) and therefore my first book that I’ve read by him (that’s the both part – first book (written by him; read by me).

I’ll start off with something that I normally put at the end, or nearish the end, the rating. Under my long ago and not currently active rating scheme, used pre-web based book cataloging by me, I would have rated this bo
Jun 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review originally published in < ahref=" For a Good Book. Rated 4.5 of 5

The Strivers' Row Spy is the debut novel for author Jason Overstreet and is a hit from page one all the way to the end.

Sidney Temple is one of the first black men to graduate from Middlebury College in 1919 and he's driven to make sure that the sacrifices his mother made in order for him to go to school will be repaid. His accomplishment at graduating college, along with his war s
Richard Rogers
Jul 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books I discovered because I liked the author's engagement on twitter. I'm glad I did.

This novel takes place mostly in NYC, in the 1920s, in a vibrant but constantly changing Harlem. Sidney Temple is a recent college graduate who's smart, tough, ambitious, confident, and capable who gets recruited by the FBI. They want him, as one of their first black agents, to infiltrate black organizations to help make a case against supposed communists like WEB Dubois and Marcus Garvey,
Mark Feltskog
From the outset, I want to emphasize that I read only the first 80 pages of this book. This is an excellent book, but not exactly my dish. So I harbor no illusions about my credentials to review it: they stink.

Yet, I persist.

To my sensibilities, and I'm not sure whether or not this was the author's intention, this work reads like a young-adult-genre novel. But for a rough description of a beating and an inartfully handled sex scene, this strikes me as the perfect book for young adults and ought
Feb 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Suspenseful and evocative, with the vibrant dreams and dangerous promise of the Harlem Renaissance as one man crosses the lines between the law, loyalty, and deadly lies… For Middlebury College graduate Sidney Temple, the Roaring Twenties bring opportunities he never imagined. His impulsive marriage to naïve artist Loretta is a happiness he never thought he’d find. And when he’s tapped by J. Edgar Hoover to be one of the BOI/FBI’s first African-American agents, he sees a once-in-a-lifetime chanc ...more
Aug 22, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Glad I read the second book first. This first book has an interesting plot, indeed more interesting than the second one because while I know a good deal about life in Stalin's Russia in the 1930s and the miserable fate of Americans who had moved there, either out of political commitment or desire to escape the Depression, I (shamefully) admit I knew little about the politics in Harlem during the 1920s.

But the writing is a bit lurid, even extravagant.

In addition, several errors jumped out at me.
Michael Bell
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I want to go back and read more about Marcus Garvey and W.E.B. DuBois after finishing this novel. There were so many historical figures represented that I was just impressed by the author's grasp of history. I am not a fan of the Back to Africa movement which Garvey espoused. It seems like his soldiers assassinated a minister who spoke against his views. He met with the Klan. He bought boats to supposedly transport people of color back to Africa. They were also used to smuggle liquor. The young ...more
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: giveaways
I received this book from Goodreads for an honest review.

An amazing historical fiction based on a real life figure, Marcus Garvey. The author definitely put the reader in the narrative that was the race relations of the 20's in Harlem. A black man is recruited by the new Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover to infiltrate the NAACP and UNIA. We see how this new agent deals with his ethics and his identity. What happens demonstrates the power of the government when it comes to race relations in th
Andrea Ward
Mar 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I & my reading group thought this book was FANTASTIC!!! A couple of my books club members are familiar with Striver's Row in NY so they were pleasantly surprised of the exactness & research the author did to make this story valid. The history of Garvey & DuBois was spot on!! I liked how the characters were developed & how the love scene with the the married couple was just enough...not vulgar or overly descriptive. There was just enough suspense to keep me turning the page to find out what was g ...more
I've never read any historical fiction books before but this really intrigued me. The story started off kind of slow in my opinion, it definitely got better once you got past the first half of the book. Sidney was frustrating because for a spy he was so naive!!! But I'm happy with the ending. I recommend this book if you love a good spy story but also if you like books deep in history. I love the 20s and this book definitely caused me to do some research of my own on some of the figures that are ...more
Mar 03, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
DNF 39%
It’s so disappointing but I had to give up. I really was not enjoying it at all even though it had all the elements I would love. A black spy story set in 1920s Harlem?? Heck yea. But the writing was so clunky to me and didn’t flow well at all. The entire time I was reading I never felt like I was actually in this world. It felt like a very boring man was giving me an extremely detailed account of his life. Incredibly dry. What a let down.
Sep 23, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nicole Butler
Feb 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Historical fiction. The lines are blurred, yet gives the reader a chance to imagine what someone was like in another time and space.
Harlem. 1920's. Pre-FBI. Striver's Row. NAACP. UNIA. Much more to dive into. Reading the book gave a colorful depiction of what it means to be black in post Reconstruction America.

I won't spoil the story but will say, the beginning is unsuspecting, the middle revs up, the end is movie predictable.
Feb 24, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-hist-mo
I liked it! I'd have liked the ending to be a little more satisfying though. I figure they don't want to mess too much with Garvey or Du Bois' stories and make it really historically inaccurate, but I wanted a little more closure for Sidney.
Also does the author have something against the French lmao the French characters were all so annoying. Particularly Ginger of course but even the background characters in France.
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Jason Overstreet grew up in Colorado, Texas, and New Mexico. He attended two Southern California universities, earning a B.A. and M.S. before spending ten years in the field of education. After attending UCLA's Professional Program in Screenwriting, he turned to writing fiction full time. He lives in Los Angeles.


Other books in the series

Renaissance (2 books)
  • Beneath the Darkest Sky (Renaissance #2)

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