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4.12  ·  Rating details ·  491 ratings  ·  92 reviews
What do we do when the people we love hold beliefs that are fundamentally incompatible with who we are?

All Jessup wants is to enjoy his senior year at Cortaca High and get a scholarship to attend college. It doesn’t seem impossible. He’s a standout varsity football player. A good student. He works at the local movie theater to help his mother make ends meet. But it’s
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 20th 2019 by Viking (first published July 9th 2019)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  491 ratings  ·  92 reviews

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Jamal Ahamad
Aug 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Stories With Mr. Ahamad
Season 2 Episode 2 | Copperhead

To be honest, I’m surprised that I even finished this book. As a young Black man, reading from the perspective of a reluctant white supremacist was hard to commit to for more than a couple of pages. Thankfully, once I got in about 100 pages deep, the story really picked up and there were some incredible character arcs to read through. Without giving too much away, I LOVE that this is a book about race featuring a
Martie Nees Record
Aug 27, 2019 rated it liked it
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Viking Press
Publication Date: July 9, 2019


“Copperhead” has a “Sins of the Father” theme. The novel reads like YA, but it is an adult story about racism that asks the question: Can you ever out-run your family history? We meet a 17-year-old high school football player who has a good chance of getting into an Ivy League school on a scholarship. He is the star of the team and his grades are good. He desperately needs this scholarship to be able to attend
Maureen Grigsby
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was an absolute stunning novel about racism in America. The main character is a 17 year old football player whose stepfather has just gotten home from serving a 4 year prison term for accessory to murder. And the stepfather expects his son to go back to the church that they all previously attended, The Blessed Church of the White America. This riveting novel seems pulled from today’s headlines. It is the best novel I have read this year, and I will be recommending it to everyone!!!
Jennifer Tam
Nov 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow what a book - loved the structure and the titles of the chapters and can’t believe most of the book took place in one weekend

A book that really makes you think about so many things
Aug 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a sparely written, thought-provoking, and ultimately hopeful book that kept me guessing about how it would end. As it takes place in Ithaca (renamed Cortaca), it was a bit like looking at my hometown in a funhouse mirror. I wouldn't have made all of the same narrative choices, but I found this to be a satisfying read.
Aug 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’d recommend this book to anyone. It’s definitely written for an older audience than The Hate U Give, so it was more interesting for me to read. Maybe that’s because I didn’t need the Black Lives Matter explained to me (although of course that wasn’t always true). I definitely still need the people in white supremacy groups explained to me. This book didn’t quite give you an insider perspective, but it wasn’t far off. It reminded me of of the way Harper Lee explained racism in Go Set A ...more
Paul Ataua
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it
I really appreciate what the author was trying to do, but it just seemed overly contrived with each character designed so that we could arrive a certain conclusion. His father (or significantly his stepfather), his girlfriend, his girlfriend’s father (the coach), his friend, and even the police were all written in a way to sit snugly into the plot, and sometimes that presented ambiguities left unanswered. Despite those minor points, it was a worthy attempt at dealing with a difficult topic.
Jun 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
"Copperhead" gets at some of the core questions about racism, especially as seen and experienced in small-town America. Why do people hate for no reason? Can anyone raised by white supremacists grow out of that world view? Author Alexi Zentner, who is Jewish, says he's been thinking about these topics his whole life. His parents, Canadian social workers and activists, saw their office firebombed by white supremacists twice when he was a teenager.

Read more in my story for Binghamton University's
Aneeza Rafiq
Aug 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I'm hovering between three and four stars. This was one strange novel that evoked very conflicting emotions within me.
This is the story about a white American teenager growing up in a racially charged current America while being affiliated to a white supremacy church. Jessup Collins stepdad and his brother are in jail for killing two black men in a crime that we're told as an unfortunate event but manipulated by the media into a hate crime. Jessup hasn't gone to the church for four years but
Jul 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read that made me think. Can see how it’s not for everyone tho
Alex Myers
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Raced through this... really compelling, well-paced. The book focuses on race and religion and violence in the US and also adolescence. All this without being preachy. The author does an excellent job of letting things get messy in a real way - not shying away from the complexity of people. The one disappointment for me was the ending -- everything came together too neatly. It was the one spot where things were unbelievable.
Jennifer S
Sep 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Copperhead examines today's climate of racism through the eyes of Jessup, a 17-year-old white boy living in upstate NY (Ithaca - not very subtly renamed Corsaca). Jessup wants nothing more than to play football, get close to his bi-racial girlfriend (daughter of his football coach), and go away somewhere to college. But he is stained with the reputation of his family who attend the Blessed Church of White America and the crimes of his brother and stepfather, who went to prison for killing 2 ...more
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Well-written and thought-provoking coming-of-age novel about a young man caught in a web of white supremacy and racism in upstate New York. The subject matter is tough to deal with and the reader's empathy is tested. Not a book to read for enjoyment. Rather, it shines a light on ugliness so that we might see it more clearly.
Robert Pickett
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! A must read for everyone.
Christopher Vincent
Sep 19, 2019 rated it liked it
Copperhead has great potential, but misses the mark mostly due to pretty terrible, melodramatic dialogue.

Now, something that really bothered me (and maybe only me and the chosen few who have lived in Ithaca, NY (6 years, for me)) was the CONSTANT references to things in Ithaca/Cornell that that also found their way into "Cortaca." It was bizarre: Route 13, copious waterfalls, renowned Lab of Ornithology, the Creamery, Spring Festival and Apple Fest on the pedestrian mall (Common), State Street
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: grown-up-books
I’m always impressed when a novel can have a huge impact on how I see the world. This is one of those stories. The honesty, brutality and compassion are all so real and thoughtfully written. Excellent book.
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Might be five stars but I like to wait a couple of days before awarding that to avoid recency bias.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: adult-fiction
I seriously don't know what to say about the book. I get the premise, there are white kids who have the deck stacked against them but still try to follow the rules, and there are privileged black kids who can be real asses. But, here is the thing, if a kid ends up dead because of what you did, because you murdered them, then you do have to be held accountable. Hinting that the hate preached by white supremacist church you attended and your family continues to attend, as the reason for your ...more
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A standout book, without a doubt--measured, conversational, poignant, excellent pacing, and heart-wrenching. I rooted for Jessup from the first moment and never stopped, and I love how Zentner captured the spirit, intelligence and naivete of a 17-year-old boy. This book made me think about my own preconceptions, in the way great books do; reminded me that there are always nuances in every situation; and painted a picture of hope that is often missing in today's narratives.

Fingers crossed for
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book immensely. The short chapters were a really interesting way to specifically highlight points in Jessup’s experience. 4 stars because the story really hit a lull and geeked to drag a bit at the 60% mark. Pace improved again around 80%. But definitely took me longer to read than my average for this length novel.
Anne Egbert
Aug 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I am giving this book a solid 5 stars. Was it a fun book to read? Absolutely not! But, wow, did it make me think hard about my own feelings about race and white nationalists. I was telling a friend she should read it. She told me about a bunch of old Life, or Saturday Evening Post pictures her mom had saved. In one of them a woman dressed in full KKK regalia was holding her infant daughter with a look of blinding love and ecstasy on her face. That is a perfect visual for this book. How do you ...more
Jt O'Neill
Sep 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I found Copperhead to be a remarkable coming of age story, dressed in the rhetoric and images of white nationalism. Racial divide, religion, family, adolescence - it's all here. Although the story doesn't take the reader completely inside the white supremacist movement, it certainly offers some insight into how and why that movement has a hold in this country, especially in small town America. The short chapters and somewhat staccato writing style seemed to move the story forward with speed and ...more
Oct 20, 2019 rated it liked it
Up to 3 stars because the writing was good. I liked the short snappy chapters, and I read to the end to see what happened.

BUT.....I have a real issue with a guy who is supposed to be the good guy in this book ? He 'loves' and supports his stepfather who is a Nazi and attends KKK 'church' meetings every Sunday??? This guy is the hero of the book because he personally doesn't say the N word. BUT he seems to have no problem having a best friend who wants a race war ? a step father who he loves like
Becki Bachleda
Jan 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
I was drawn to the novel Copperhead by Alexi Zentner under the influence that the characters and plot would supposedly draws readers in. I was desired to read something emotional and impactful with characters I could attach myself to. Copperhead was recommended to me in high praise and seemingly matched my desires. In light of these factors, I made the decision to read Zentner’s work for the first time.

Alexi Zentner has been well known as an accomplished Canadian novelist, short story writer
Jack Kilshaw
Jan 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
To me, a good book is a book that accurately represents the real world. A book that is able to not just convey deep messages in a way that is well-crafted, but a way that is realistic - because it is that sense of realism that is able to fully immerse the reader in the plot. This is why Alexi Zentner’s realistic fiction novel, Copperhead, stood out to me.
Alexi Zentner attended Cornell University in up state New York and graduated to continue teaching at that establishment. He went on to write
Jan 16, 2020 added it
I expected the novel to had a lot of societal issues that reflect today's social problems. I also expected the main character to struggle with his family.

The novel is about a star varsity high school football player with big dreams of escaping his town and making his name big. The plot takes a turn when his dreams are shattered when he kills an African American kid. His past family history creates plot and conflict that makes for a worthwhile novel.

In the novel Copperhead by Alexi Zentner, The
Gabe Levy
Jan 12, 2020 marked it as to-read
Alexi Zetner’s Copperhead is a stress-filled slow analysis of a racially motivated death and the events following. The book shows the pains of racism on a relatable character to the youth of today .
I found the book interesting, but I found the lack of growth in the main character harrowing. Instead, major growth can be seen in side characters. Jessup, the main character is seen as stalling, with everything seemingly happening around him. For a book with themes of racism, standing up against
Cassidy Cardwell
As a child, Alexi Zenter dealt with and witnessed issues surrounding white supremacy, racism, and antisemitism. Growing up, his parents were both very passionate about supporting those groups under fire, as he remembers them meeting with numerous activists in their old Victorian home.
Due to their vocal actions regarding these minorities, their office was bombed twice by neo-Nazi groups. No one was hurt, and no arrests were ever made, but this event was always very close to Zenters' heart. These
Evan Donaldson
The novel Copperhead is an exceptional read, about a high school boy named Jessup who comes from a white supremist family and comes across several problems dealing with racism. Jessup is a 17 year old high school football star but coming from a poor family with a lot of background with racism, it makes it highly difficult for him.
The author, Alexi Zentner grew up in Upstate New York teaching at Universities, then started publishing his writing in magazines, and finally started to produce
Oct 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
It was hard for me to put a number of stars on this book. It's flawed for sure, but it also tries to do something really interesting, and, above all, it made me think. It made me think a lot, and that's clearly Zentner's intent. I certainly think it should be widely read, even if it's not perfect, just for the discussion it could spark.

I liked Copperhead for similar reasons that I liked Beartown and its sequel, Us Against You, because Zentner tries to inhabit characters who think differently
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Alexi Zentner lives in upstate New York with his wife and children. His novels have been published in sixteen countries and more than a dozen languages. He is the author of the novel, COPPERHEAD, forthcoming from Viking Penguin on July 9, 2019. He is also the author of the internationally acclaimed novels, THE LOBSTER KINGS, and TOUCH. Under the pseudonym Ezekiel Boone, Alexi is the author of the ...more
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