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Everywhere You Don't Belong

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In this alternately witty and heartbreaking debut novel, Gabriel Bump gives us an unforgettable protagonist, Claude McKay Love. Claude isn’t dangerous or brilliant—he’s an average kid coping with abandonment, violence, riots, failed love, and societal pressures as he steers his way past the signposts of youth: childhood friendships, basketball tryouts, first love, first heartbreak, picking a college, moving away from home. 
Claude just wants a place where he can fit. As a young black man born on the South Side of Chicago, he is raised by his civil rights–era grandmother, who tries to shape him into a principled actor for change; yet when riots consume his neighborhood, he hesitates to take sides, unwilling to let race define his life. He decides to escape Chicago for another place, to go to college, to find a new identity, to leave the pressure cooker of his hometown behind. But as he discovers, he cannot; there is no safe haven for a young black man in this time and place called America. 
Percolating with fierceness and originality, attuned to the ironies inherent in our twenty-first-century landscape, Everywhere You Don’t Belong marks the arrival of a brilliant young talent.


264 pages, Hardcover

First published February 4, 2020

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About the author

Gabriel Bump

4 books155 followers
Gabriel Bump is from South Shore, Chicago. He received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Gabriel’s first two novels—Everywhere You Don’t Belong and The New Naturals—are forthcoming from Algonquin Books.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 539 reviews
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,285 reviews2,205 followers
February 7, 2020
I loved Claude McKay Love, the main character in this coming of age story of a young black man, growing up on the South side of Chicago. Claude, abandoned at 5 by his parents is raised by an unconventional, activist grandmother who loves him. He’s heartbroken and so was I. Claude cries a lot over being left by his parents, over the death of black teenager, dead in the street, killed by a cop while the boy was entering a home to feed the cats for the people on vacation. Must be stealing they said. So relevant and reflective of the real life situations we see on the news with young black men and boys being killed or abused not because they are doing something wrong, but because of the racism that makes police believe they are doing something wrong. He cries over the riots that ensue and the gangs and more people killed. He cries when he leaves Chicago for college in Missouri and is working on a journalism project whose very assignment feels racist. Cries as he is looking back at Barack Obama’s election. He’s sad when everyone seems to be leaving him - his friends, Janice, the girl he loves . But Janet comes back bringing with her further times of fear and violence. In spite of all the tears and the violence, there are times when I couldn’t help but laugh. In spite of the tears and violence, there is so much love here. This is one of those books I didn’t want to end because I didn’t want to leave Claude, this determined, young man who keeps hopeful in spite of everything. A terrific debut by Gabriel Bump, who was born and raised on the South side of Chicago.

I received an advanced copy of this book from Algonquin Books through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Chris Blocker.
691 reviews158 followers
January 2, 2020
I worry readers are going to be expecting something from this book that is very different from what they receive, and this will only drag down the rating. Everywhere You Don't Belong is definitely a book very much about the issues of social justice and racism, but it is very much written in a clever, darkly comic manner. This is a novel for fans of David Foster Wallace and Adam Levin, particularly the latter. The same kind of quirky characters with endearing nicknames you'd find in The Instructions are here. The build up to a battle to end all battles (Infinite Jest's tennis war or The Instructions' Armageddon) is also here, but the payoff isn't quite as epic as either of those provided. Although I have a love-hate relationship with Infinite Jest, I thoroughly enjoyed The Instructions and I do think Everywhere You Don't Belong is an excellent companion piece.

Given the length of Everywhere You Don't Belong (a fourth of the aforementioned tomes) and the popularity of the subject matter, I do think this book will fall into the hands of many readers who are unfamiliar with postmodernism. They may be looking for an entirely believable story, and when what they get isn't realism, nor is it something they can equate with an established genre, I think they may be too quick to dismiss it.

But look at me, spending all my time talking about what other readers are potentially going to do... Here's what I think of this novel:

I enjoyed much of this book. The opening chapters where we're introduced to Claude's life and his friends is stellar. I wish I'd been able to spend more time with Nugget, Bubbly, and Jonah. The conversations that happened between Claude's grandmother and her friend Paul were so outlandishly entertaining. Many of these chapters felt more like short stories from the life of Claude, giving the reader an idea of different aspects of his life rather than a joined narrative. Eventually, the narrative becomes more cohesive. For me, the concluding chapters didn't carry the same heft as the first half of the book, but I was still pleased with them. There's just a sharpness to the wit and language of the first half that I think was missing in the end.

Everywhere You Don't Belong comes out in February 2020. And if I haven't made it clear yet, I recommend this novel for fans of Adam Levin.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,484 reviews29.4k followers
January 30, 2021
Poignant and so timely, Everywhere You Don't Belong , Gabriel Bump's debut novel, packs a powerful punch.

Growing up on Chicago’s South Side, Claude McKay Love has seen a lot of things. Raised by his Civil Rights-era activist grandmother and her best friend, they try to make him believe he can achieve greatness. But Claude has mostly seen mediocrity and abandonment, and he doesn’t believe that greatness is routinely accessible by young Black men.

But as his community is rocked by violence and caught in a tug-of-war between those wanting to change things and those who want power of their own, Claude realizes he wants more. He wants simple—love, success, safety, a feeling of belonging—but believes to achieve that he must do what has been done to him—leave.

Yet Claude quickly realizes that even a change of location doesn’t change the situation for him. To get what he wants may take everything he has—and may be dangerous—but he can’t let life pass him by or it will swallow him up.

What a tremendously thought-provoking book this was! At turns funny, sad, shocking, hopeful, and insightful, Bump takes you on a roller-coaster ride that seems exaggerated in places but is all too real for some.

I’ll definitely be thinking about this one for a while. There’s some violence in the book, which may be a trigger for some, but it’s not gratuitous. It may sound like an intense read, and it has its moments, but all in all, it's just a really good book.

I was glad to be part of the blog tour celebrating the paperback release of Everywhere You Don't Belong . My thanks to Algonquin Books and NetGalley provided me with a complimentary copy in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making it available!!

Check out my list of the best books I read in 2020 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2021/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2020.html.

Check out my list of the best books of the last decade at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2020/01/my-favorite-books-of-decade.html.

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com.

Follow me on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/the.bookishworld.of.yrralh/.
February 9, 2020
Claude Mckay Love grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother after his parents abandoned him at a young age. She is a great influence in his life and pushes him to continue his education while avoiding the drug and gang violence from their neighborhood.

After a violent riot, Claude is haunted by the event and sets his sights on leaving Chicago. The home and city that he knew have been altered and he is tired of the injustices. He yearns for a place to fit in and eventually leaves for Missouri to attend college and study journalism. Unfortunately, Claude’s escape away from the streets of Chicago reemerge and he is forced to confront the same challenges from his youth.

Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a debut novel by Gabriel Bump. This book is original and clever with a mix of grit and humor. This is an author to watch in the future.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,444 reviews7,532 followers
January 14, 2021
In case you missed it this list . . . .

Has been pretty good for me. I didn’t request allllllll of the books, but anything that perked my ears up in interest definitely got put on hold at my local library and I’ve been reading them pretty much as soon as my turn comes up. Everywhere You Don’t Belong was presented as a coming of age story set in the South Side of Chicago told by a young, male, black protagonist and . . . . .

Unfortunately, I did not enjoy this much at all. There were brief moments of levity in this tale as the blurb promised, but the writing style was definitely not my idea of a good time. Dialogue heavy with little to no punctuation, cardboard cutout characters with no depth and a schizophrenic attempt at covering everything without really committing to diving deeper into anything of any importance made for a not great time. Another reviewer said this must be what it feels like to have a stroke and that made me chuckle because uhhhhhh yeah. The closest comparison I can make with regard to the delivery and approach to this was the oh-so-godawful Bob Honey Who Just Do Stuff. At least this one earned more than 1 Star from me!

(Please don’t troll me and tell me I’m a wrongreader – I like what I like and I’m sure many others will voice the same complaints I am.)

Not to mention at this point in the suckage that has been both the first year of the Roaring 20s as well as the first few weeks of this new year I really wasn’t in the mood for such a reiteration of the current state of America. Reminders of racial injustices or books that seem very “present” (for lack of a better term) are one thing, but when a snippet featuring a group of Proud Boy types came into the picture mere days after our Capitol was raided, well that had me saying . . . .

I was looking for a bit of an escape (hence the being interested in reading a coming-of-age story with a darkly humorous lean to it). If you are of a more sensitive nature than myself, you may find that you want to take cover in a bunker or something after reliving our reality via this fiction.
Profile Image for Matt Quann.
628 reviews383 followers
July 15, 2020
I tossed out Everywhere You Don't Belong as an option to our book club and got quite a few bites. We wanted to read something that spoke to the times and, specifically, to the Black Lives Matter movement. This stacked up nicely alongside my recent reading trajectory which has included a powerful indigenous memoir, an incredible multigenerational African novel, and a 1970s short story collection about race. By comparison, Everywhere You Don't Belong feels a bit more youthful and drops in some surprising bursts of humour.

Normally, it takes about a month for everyone to get through a novel, but members were tearing through Gabriel Bump's debut in a matter of days. Now that I've read the book, I can see why! Narrated by lost-in-the-world South Side Chicago youth, Claude, Everywhere You Don't Belong thrives on short chapters, dialogue-heavy passages, and a fast-moving timeline. The book's main cast--Claude, Janice, Grandma, and Paul--all shine with easily distinguishable voice, but it's to Bump's credit that all of the supporting cast and bit players stand out. Whether it's an artist working as a restauranteur or a drunk girl at a high school party, Bump's character beats are punchy and memorable.

Though the book does a lot of thematic heavy lifting, it's readability and humour keep it from being a nonstop parade of tragedy. As Claude struggles to find his place in a world where his race makes him feel disposable, it is the moments of levity that help propel the reader forward. No doubt about it, Claude and Janice's differing paths on the way out of Chicago ask complex and difficult questions of the reader, but boy does Bump do it in readable style.

I was pretty impressed with this short novel! As much as these things fall into artificial categories, it's likely a bit YA-ish. There's a teen/young adult romance, but I thought it was elevated by its atypical course. I'm very excited to see what my book club made of it and I'll keep my eyes peeled for whatever Bump writes next.
Profile Image for Nancy Oakes.
1,922 reviews733 followers
February 12, 2020

full post here:

First, a huge thanks to Algonquin, who sent me an advanced reader copy. When I began reading this novel, I was sort of taken aback at the simplicity of it all and I was a bit on the iffy side, but the truth is that the further I got into it the more I realized that it's not simple at all -- it is intelligent and works at a level of complexity I hadn't anticipated.

Just briefly, I suppose this book is what most people are calling it, a coming-of-age story, following Claude McKay Love beginning with childhood growing up in an African-American neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago. His life is a series of people leaving, with his parents taking off first, followed here and there by his friends. The only solid thing in Claude's life is his grandmother, who along with her live-in friend Paul brings him up as best as she can, which isn't always easy. What makes this somewhat atypical of a standard coming-of-age tale is in the way the author also examines different forms of oppression, racism and ideology that find their way into Claude's life, as well as how he copes with it all.

Do not let the simplicity of the prose or the style fool you. And think out of the box when you get to the end, which seems both simplistic and unrealistic, but the author is making a point here. While there are a number of funny moments where I couldn't help but laugh, Everywhere You Don't Belong is a serious novel telling a serious story that needs to be heard and asking questions that need to be asked. Very highly recommended, and Mr. Bump should be congratulated for a first novel very well done.

If anyone in the US would like my copy of this paperback arc (I don't keep them, preferring to share), please pm me and I'll be happy to give it to you.
Profile Image for BookOfCinz.
1,404 reviews2,358 followers
April 16, 2023
Why did it take me so long to read this book?!!!!

Everywhere You Don’t Belong is Gabriel Bump’s debut novel that perfectly explores race, violence, love, regret, family and societal pressures. We are thrown into the world of Claude McKay whose parents left him with his grandmother at a very young age and never returned. Claude’s world is his grandmother and her friend Paul who lives with both of them. He lives in Chicago and is currently battling the pressures to stay in school and not be deterred by the violence around him. That fails when there is a major to throws his world off course.

Honestly, there is a lot happening in the book. Some parts felt unfinished but on a whole I felt the writing was immersive and honest in a way I will remember. Being in the world of a young black man from South Side Chicago who is raised by his grandmother because his parents abandoned him- well, I kinda didn’t want to leave- I wanted to cheer for him so very bad!

I also love how hilarious some moments were… I genuinely loved how the characters were jumping off the page- specifically Paul and Claude’s grandmother. This one is truly a gem and I cannot wait to see what the author writes next.
Profile Image for jo.
613 reviews489 followers
January 10, 2020
I was grateful to receive an ARC copy of this. It’s such a good book! The first half is lyrical and fragmented in a beautiful, strong, and original way. It centers on a child living with his family in South Side Chicago (yes, that’s Obama-land!) and is a mixture of Black coming-of-age and reflection on racial injustice. There is a riot, the repercussion of which will be felt throughout the book, and it’s a beautifully and heartrendingly described riot — pain and injustice palpable and searing. The child’s family is unorthodox and also solid and loving and quirky and funny.

In the second half Claude, the protagonist, manages to get away and go to University, where the trauma of his insecure and violent childhood inevitably follows him. The adventures of Claude in Wisconsin are both funny and terrifying. The novel turns more traditional, a love story becomes part of it, and the rhythm accelerates. Maybe this part is not as magical and surprising as the first, but this is a debut novel and, heck, it is pretty damn good.

I am a White immigrant to the United States and I will never understand the Black experience, but I will never stop trying, bc understanding others (and in the process, ourselves) is what we must do. This book did something to me. It is not exactly written *for* me, but what I got from it is a deeper understanding of the fragility of Black life in America, and also of the brilliance and joy of Black life in America. When it comes to American Black life there is something that’s very much akin to orientalism. We all want to be a little bit Black. I haven’t given much thought to why marginalized cultures are so profoundly appealing to those who belong in the mainstream, and to why this attraction can be simultaneously infused with the deepest, most heinous racism, but it’s definitely a thing. I think we should fight it. At the same time, though, we are given the amazing opportunity to enjoy art that is produced in the immensely fruitful place that is the margins, and I think we should consume it as much as possible. .
Profile Image for Truman32.
344 reviews99 followers
February 17, 2020
In many ways a good book is like a well-executed kidnapping. They both sweep you up before you even know what is happening. They club you over the head with a tube sock full of quarters and suddenly you are unable to get away. Soon a hanky with suspicious stains and reeking of Chloroform is jammed into your mouth and you find yourself transported to a place you have never been before. A place that is enthralling and all encompassing. And that is it, you have been taken.
Gabriel Bump’s novel Everywhere You Don’t Belong abducts the reader to the South Shore of Chicago. As everyone knows, the South side of Chicago is the baddest part of town and if you go down there you better just beware. Claude McKay Love has lived a tough life. Though his family provides love and support they are weird and unconventional. His mother and father abandoned him at an early age leaving his upbringing to grandma and her tenant/friend. His neighborhood is riddled in crime. He doesn’t fit in with his peers at school and as a young African American man he struggles to find a sense of belonging (particularly in an America that seems to dismiss him based only on his skin color). This is pretty heady stuff, but Bump writes in a sardonic and gallows type of humor that anyone whose name is Bump has no doubt developed over many years of schoolyard wedgies and dripping wet willies. The humor is evocative of Joseph Heller – bleak but funny.
Everywhere You Don’t Belong shines a spotlight on experiences that are often underrepresented in our society. The book has enough narrative drive to make the story interesting and is not a novel that preaches its message so loudly it sacrifices the story. And while the places it takes you can be rough and heartbreaking (and this too is like a kidnapping, after all who wants to be thrown in a basement chained to a busted washing machine and forced to pee into a bucket until your family can gather the $1500 ransom) it is a trip that is eye-opening.
Profile Image for Tzipora.
207 reviews161 followers
April 21, 2020
I really don’t know how to rate this book. It wasn’t quite what I expected and like many others, I was really enjoying it until the second half or last third. When Claude ends up in Missouri everything seems to kind of take a pointless or at least severely underdeveloped turn.

But I adored the parts that take place in South Shore, Chicago. I really appreciated the race based musings and discussions, the struggles of growing up in a rough neighborhood but just trying to get along, stay out of trouble, do the best you can in shit circumstances. I’m just another white girl reading this book and while I live in Chicago I can’t say I’m very familiar with where this book takes place. But I have lived in rough neighborhoods in Michigan not so different, been the only white girl at a queer youth shelter in Highland Park Detroit, spent weeks in my teens at another youth shelter in a smaller but similarly racially divided and troubled city. I can’t know what it’s like to be a young black boy but I know the neighborhoods, the poverty, the people to some extent. I know what it’s like to never really belong in my own way (too poor for the local Jewish community, too queer for the poorer Jews, too sick all around, too Jewish in disabled spaces, etc...). And I think there’s a lot of people who will see themselves or neighborhoods they’ve known in this book, people who have maybe never seen themselves in books before. It’s a wildly different view of South Shore than what you’ll hear from Michelle Obama but also very different than what you hear on the news. That reality, is what makes this book special. I saw places I’ve lived and never seen in books before, remembered them surprisingly fondly perhaps, because even in troubled places there’s more good, honest, people just trying to get by then there is bad. Claude felt like someone I went to high school with.

Then he goes off to Missouri and I understood it, I guess. Though it’s interesting that it was never addressed how he afforded it. Or even fully why Missouri. We saw other characters struggling with wanting Claude to get away and be someone but wanting him to stay but I wish we had gotten deeper into Claude’s own thoughts. It felt like one day his mind was made up. Missouri. No idea if he ever considered anywhere else. And when he gets there new characters are introduced but then dropped and the book lost a lot of what made it so special in the end, and so relatable.

My ecopy was due back to the library today so unfortunately I don’t really have more time to flip through this one but it’s definitely a book I’m going to sit with and think about. I had to read other reviews to even begin to decide how to rate it. I’m still not sure what I think. But I sure loved the first 60% or so.

Profile Image for Ms YaYa.
25 reviews1 follower
February 8, 2020
* Before reading this review please know that although kept vague, I will be disclosing what DOES NOT happen. If this still SPOILS the story for you. Do not read any further 🙏🏾

Claude was a fascinating character, with intriguing circumstances and experiences. Claude’s “love interest”, Janice, and unusual immediate family members were just as fascinating. In fact, what I enjoyed most were the more recent Black culture and Black history references made, as well as the colloquial leaps in time used to describe scenes and states of mind for an atypical, yet familiar, cast of characters.

I loved where this book was going; the anticipation of the book was exciting. It was refreshing to have a deeper perspective of Chicago during that time via this story. I was totally on board for this literary ride...I could not put it down.

Then, about two-thirds in, the story took this weird turn that abruptly ended the journey. [I was lost and “should’ve made the left at Albuquerque” ~ Bugs Bunny 😁]

I was completely confused about what was happening and why. There were new characters introduced and connections to the story that were pivotal to Claude’s “new beginning”. However, they were never really developed. I just could not grasp the impact these characters would have on Claude’s future decision-making and was left with a lot of questions. Maybe that was the point 🤔 Maybe it descended just like it should have.

Overall, as mentioned before, I admire the author’s writing style. I also appreciate the story I believe he was trying to tell but was not able to execute seamlessly as anticipated. It is still worth the read.

I am curious as to what others think about it.

Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,040 reviews320 followers
January 13, 2021
EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing up as a young black man trying to escape the South Side after the riots. Claude eventually moves to Missouri for college and no matter his escape, he finds himself dealing with the same issues - complete irony for a black man living the life in twenty-first-century America.

I found this book to be well written and an anthem for our youth, and for anyone feeling the need to belong, or had ever experienced a sense of alienation and abandonment. This is a book that will feel like a friend that just completely understands and laughs along side you.

Well done! I highly recommend.
Profile Image for John Dishwasher John Dishwasher.
Author 2 books44 followers
December 18, 2021
This story shows the difficulties we face in trying to break free of our roots, of our past; in trying to make a fresh beginning. The protagonist has every logical reason to make such a break, and the desire to do so, and the will; but still, even so, he has a very difficult time freeing himself. We follow him through his childhood and adolescence in a violent Chicago neighborhood, and into the beginning of his college years in rural Missouri. We are shown through his struggle all that holds us back from making a new start: Emotional ties. Discouragement from family. The inertia of what we know. The lapses and failures of those who might guide us, or inspire us, or set an example for our own escape. And that hardest final obstacle: the strength of the roots themselves, that deep visceral connection to our source. In the end the book shows that, despite our desires and efforts, sometimes it is only possible to make a new beginning when we have no other choice.

Bump is quite a stylist. He tells this story through wonderfully rhythmic prose, and rapid-fire dialogues that approach the poetic in cadence. And his pacing is just consummate. Most interesting to me is how he crafts smatterings of farce into serious situations, and just fluidly and subtly enough that you wonder if you’re reading it right. This gives his tale an original flavor.
Profile Image for Poonam.
148 reviews26 followers
July 7, 2020
Frenetic and propulsive, EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG is a fantastic debut from Gabrielle Bump. And a book I absolutely loved.

I gravitated towards this book for two reasons. One, it’s billed as a dark comedy. Two, it’s set in Chicago. So I wanted to see what story Bump would cook up, and why reviewers were saying this book isn’t what you’d expect.

This coming-of-age novel follows Claude McKay Love from age 5, when his parents leave him with his grandmother, through his first year of college. An average kid growing up in Chicago’s South Shore, abandonment, violence, first loves and peer pressure consume his life.

I absolutely loved the dark deadpan humor to tell a heartbreaking coming-of-age story. It’s a really smart way to take traumatic themes and turn it into a page turner that doesn’t sink you deep into those heavy moments. Yet still gives space to contemplate how heavy life can be a Black boy. And the way Bump slips social commentary in throughout the book is so fun.

This book feels like a cross between Tommy Orange’s THERE THERE (pacing, plot-driven) and The Last Black Man in San Francisco (imaginative storytelling).

And on a personal note, I loved the Chicago/midwest setting. It’s fun reading Chicago stories and this book is SO midwest, lol.

Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Jan.
1,072 reviews29 followers
June 17, 2020
A young man comes of age in a tough Chicago neighborhood while dealing with abandonment by his parents and a drive to get away. Strong characters and light comic touches make it a lively read, and a plot line involving protests over a black man’s death at the hands of police make this debut novel very timely.
February 4, 2020
As a white Midwesterner, I must say I felt a little voyeuristic peering into the world of a South Side Chicago teen as he navigated his way through life.

As I read EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG, I was repeatedly struck with how much mental fortitude can be cemented at a very early age. For some, strength and bravery are developed through strong family encouragement and societal achievements. For others, it is forged from repeated loss and boldly overcoming overwhelming obstacles.⠀

Often the media portrays life on the South Side of Chicago as either gang warfare or Michelle Obama. But where is the in-between? The place most urban Americans live? Author, Gabriel Bump takes us on a journey through the eyes of an everyday urban family living in a challenging neighborhood. He wanted his South Side readers to recognize themselves in his fictional (but true to life) story.⠀

The tempo of EVERYWHERE YOU DON’T BELONG moves at a fast clip. It’s a reading style that takes a second to get used to. But once you’re in the rhythm, good luck putting the book down. There are abrupt but brief jumps to the future weaved throughout the telling of this story of one young black man who can’t quite find his place in the world. Death and abandonment are reoccurring themes in this generational story. The sheer determination to do better boils underneath all the chaos.⠀

The time-period is predominantly during the Obama administration (a proud moment for any Chicagoan.) Change is promised but does the everyday black American see it? The main character is searching for the place where he belongs. It isn’t the civil-rights activism of his grandmother’s time but it also doesn’t seem to be in a college classroom either. He calls to question all of our individual stories of belongingness.⠀

Mixed with humor and racial integrity, EVERYWHERE will make you think, will awaken you to societies and cultures vastly different than your own, and will ultimately ask you how you find your own place in our world.⠀

This is a strong debut novel written from a place of knowing, believing and surviving.
Profile Image for Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?.
617 reviews105 followers
February 4, 2020
Claude is your typical high school kid, trying to figure out what he is going to do for the rest of his life. He lives on the South Side of Chicago, where life is not always the greatest. Surviving his parents leaving him, rioting and violence in his hometown. When he meets Janice, he think he may have found the one person to make the journey a little better, but Janice has plans of her own that may or may not include Claude. Together or apart, will Claude be able to make it through this tumultuous life, or will he fall victim to his circumstances.

Thank you to NetGalley and Algonquin Books for the opportunity to read and review this book.

I can say that I was hooked on this book from the start. Claude seems like a shy guy who doesn't have too many friends. Not that he doesn't want friends, but he just likes to stick to himself. At first while reading the book, I was a little concerned about the writing style. But it fits for a boy of that age who is unsure of himself. This book was a quick read with a lot of dry humor.

You don't hear as many reports about the violence in Chicago, but it is ever prevalent. Thankfully, I have never felt the fear of violence just from sitting on my porch, but Claude feels it and even though he tries to escape it, it seems to follow him.

I really enjoyed this story and highly recommend for high school boys who are unsure of their future.
Profile Image for Nursebookie.
2,040 reviews320 followers
January 13, 2021
EVERYWHERE YOU DON'T BELONG by debut author Gabriel Bump is a phenomenal story that I read in one sitting. It's funny, it's real, it's witty, it's brilliant, it's a great quick read. The story is about the life story and experience of Claude Mckay Love who grew up in the South Side of Chicago. He was raised by his grandmother and her friend Paul after his parents end up abandoning him as a young child. The stories within the chapters are Calude's personal experience as he sees the world growing up as a young black man trying to escape the South Side after the riots. Claude eventually moves to Missouri for college and no matter his escape, he finds himself dealing with the same issues - complete irony for a black man living the life in twenty-first-century America.

I found this book to be well written and an anthem for our youth, and for anyone feeling the need to belong, or had ever experienced a sense of alienation and abandonment. This is a book that will feel like a friend that just completely understands and laughs along side you.

Well done! I highly recommend.

Thank you Algonquin for the advanced and gifted copy - all thoughts are my own.
Profile Image for Estee.
453 reviews
November 27, 2019
I am not sure whether to give this book 3.5 or 4 stars so I will round up for now.

I don’t really know how to describe this book except that it is different and wild and I liked it. It feels futuristic but it’s set in present day. It feels old and new at the same time.

Claude, the main character, is both sensitive and brave, smart and not so smart. He is a smart teenager who makes some good choices and some bad choices.

The first half of the book reads like short stories. And while the second half of the book is unbelievable, Claude is believable and so you read and root for him.

This was an interesting book that is very timely but with a very different tone. I think people will enjoy it.

Thank you to NetGalley for an advance copy of this book
Profile Image for Carla.
1,180 reviews18 followers
March 8, 2020
While I enjoyed the book, a coming of age novel of a young black man Claude who is searching for a way to fit in, to make something of himself. The setting is the South Side of Chicago. I think the first part of the book kept me engaged, but that fell off about halfway through. I think this was quite a different style of writing as well. Different is good, though it sometimes made it hard to follow. I appreciate that Claude wanted to make changes in his life, and that like some people, there is often no way to get completely away from our past.
Thank you to Kristen at Algonquin books for providing a free electronic ARC of this book for an honest review. I DO see a future for further work of Gabriel Bump!
Profile Image for Georgette.
1,543 reviews6 followers
February 4, 2020
Exactly the kind of book I needed to pull myself out of the depression. Thank you to Mark for recommending it.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,766 reviews133 followers
May 23, 2022
Tough Life

This is a very interesting book that is relevant to the current life situations for many in the poorer communities, especially the black community.

The characters are very well written and the pace of the book is quick. Spiced with humor and horrible scenes. This is a good one.
Profile Image for Mark.
1,373 reviews104 followers
February 26, 2020
Claude McKay Love is a black teenager growing up on the south side of Chicago. His parents abandoned him early on and he has been raised by his fiery, activist grandmother. Claude is an emotional kid and is disheartened by the things he sees around him- his friends being gunned down by gangs or the police, riots against injustices and the bleak future that face most of the kids in his neighborhood. He decides to flee the city and enrolls in college in Iowa, aiming to become a journalist. He soon finds out that there is no safe oasis for a young black man.
This is an impressive debut. There is a gritty edge to his writing style, but also an equally dark wit. And Claude was a terrific character to spend a couple of a hundred pages with.
583 reviews6 followers
February 15, 2020
This was a frustrating book. It is billed as witty, profound and even comical. There is absolutely nothing funny in this book. The protagonist is sad, lost and often pathetic while navigating violent, terrifying and tragic events. The supporting characters are broken and useless, his family members nearly so dysfunctional that they are abusive. This book highlights systematic racism, rage, terror and police brutality. But the bewildered protagonist leaves readers frustrated and unsatisfied. He never finds his place or how to make any sort of difference.
Profile Image for Bryn Lerud.
596 reviews9 followers
October 21, 2020
A novel about a Chicago family and about hatred amongst groups of people in Chicago. It was depressing.
Profile Image for Greg Zimmerman.
803 reviews170 followers
February 7, 2020

First appeared at https://www.thenewdorkreviewofbooks.c...

My experience growing up was quite literally the exact opposite of that of the character Claude in Gabriel Bump's funny, sharp, and tragic debut novel, Everywhere You Don't Belong. I grew up in a pleasant small town in Ohio with a supportive family and no real problems. Still, I moved to a big city the first chance I got. Conversely, Claude's parents abandon him when he's young and he's raised by his grandmother in the at-times rough South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. He moves to a small college town (Columbia, Missouri) the first chance he gets. (Bump also grew up in South Shore, a neighborhood probably most famous as Michelle Obama's home, as well.)

So it's a tribute to Bump (and maybe more than a little presumptuous on my part to say) how relatable Claude felt. He's an introvert. He's awkward around girls specifically, but people generally. He likes to read. And he wants to be a journalist. Everywhere You Don't Belong is the story of Claude's coming-of-age as a boy and teenager in South Shore, surviving a horrific race riot after the police kill a black man, crushing on his long-time family friend Janice who is beautiful but gets in some trouble, and finally realizing he needs to leave Chicago and matriculates to the University of Missouri.

Bump packs a lot into this deceptively simple, fast-paced story. It's about racism. There's a bit of an unconventional first-love story. There is a careful consideration of mental health in the African American community. There are jocks and nerds. An old possibly alcoholic gay man named Paul who keeps hilariously trying to avenge perceived slights. Drugs. Gangs. More.

But possibly the biggest strength of this slim but powerful novel is its voice. It's alternately funny and dead serious, but with a subtlety that really requires you to pay attention to catch both the profundity, and also the humor. Here's an exchange between teenaged Claude and his crush Janice that illustrates this:

"Your grandma came to my house yesterday," Janice said.
"She's going around the neighborhood," I said.
"She's a little wild," Janice said.
"I'm sorry," I said. "She's worried about the future."
"I like it," Janice said. "She screamed a little."
"I'm sorry," I said again.
"They want to organize a march," Janice said.
"I'm sorry," I said.
"They want to take back the streets," Janice said.

There's so much to unpack here — it's funny, it's sad, it's a little cringe-worthy. Poor Claude is so awkward! But this is representative of many of the quick-fire snippets of dialogue throughout the novel I really loved.

Bump is getting the "arrival of a brilliant young talent" blurb treatment, a sentiment which is somewhat overused, but in this case perfectly apt. This is one Chicago writer for whom I can't wait to see what's next. I pealed through this book so quickly, I'm desperate for more of this voice! This book is highly recommended both as a terrific reading experience, and also to get in on the ground floor of a writer from whom you'll no doubt be hearing lots more.
Profile Image for Andre.
520 reviews141 followers
April 24, 2021
I often analogize books to music, particularly jazz, and this book is a perfect example of why that analogy is so comme il faut. I breezed through the book and after ten pages or so; I thought about Pharoah Sanders and his frenetic, violent saxophone. This novel is so different in terms of construction and veers far away from convention, but it is brilliantly executed by Gabriel Bump signaling a bright and promising future for this novelist.

The beginning of Claude McKay Love’s story reads almost like a series of short stories. It takes some time for the work to congeal into a novel, but that is the non-conventional aspect of the book. Having said that, it is still easy to tease out the story of Claude, who we learn early on, is trying to be somewhere, trying somehow to fit into something, but he keeps finding that everywhere he doesn’t belong.

Parents who took flight initiate the trauma of Claude’s childhood. Claude’s raising is left to his grandmother who embraces and envelops him with a tough love. Claude works through the strain and sadness of his childhood to eventually make something of himself. So the down parts of this novel are infused with so much comedic writing, it rarely touches the emotions. This book can’t really be properly reviewed, it has to be experienced, so take the plunge and enjoy the ride.
Profile Image for Bookworm.
1,839 reviews58 followers
February 5, 2020
I don't quite remember what drew me to the book, but I remember eagerly awaiting for the release date to approach. But it sounded like a really interesting tale of a young man growing up in Chicago and coming of age with all of the dramas and angst that time period brings (plus with societal/cultural issues).

Claude is growing up with his grandmother in Chicago and deals with life. His grandmother's live-in boyfriend (sort of), relationship troubles, being bullied at school and elsewhere, trying to fit in (or not), understanding his place in the world, etc. He is well-aware, as a young black man, how society views him and this is him navigating through a world that eyes him suspiciously.

I wasn't feeling this one. It never really caught my attention. It's dialogue-heavy and none of the characters (including Claude), seemed to be particularly compelling or even fleshed out very well. There were moments and bits where I did feel for Claude (at the very end), but overall the book was forgettable.

It could be this debut just doesn't work for me. Library borrow.
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