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Everywhere You Don't Belong

3.76  ·  Rating details ·  227 ratings  ·  67 reviews
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 ...more
Hardcover, 264 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Algonquin Books
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Rosa Though I'm not that familiar with Claude McKay's work except for a few poems (definitely mean to fix this soon), and am only halfway through this…moreThough I'm not that familiar with Claude McKay's work except for a few poems (definitely mean to fix this soon), and am only halfway through this novel (loving it), I've also been reading with your question in mind, though for me it's not a question of "was this a coincidence?" but rather, "what are all the parallels?" Due to the current Claude McKay revival (including release of previously-unpublished work), I've read some recent articles about his life and work (NYT mostly) - I think Bump's choice of name for his protag is 100% intentional.

Claude Mckay was:

1. an immigrant in America whose work largely identified him with an African American movement - my impression is that he often wrote about black people all around the world, especially those who had immigrated to other places
2. initially very swept up in the ideas of communism but eventually became disenchanted, at a time when many of his peers were still galvanized by communist ideals
3. a devout Catholic near the end of his life, which didn't mirror the faith/spirituality of many of his peers

While none of the above directly echoes any of Gabriel Bump's protag's life, the idea of never fitting in no matter where he goes or who he tries to tell himself he is, the idea of perpetually being an outsider, fits.

And from a writer's standpoint, the strongest parallels between Claude McKay's writing and Gabriel Bump's, evident from the early chapters:

1. writing about queerness like it's NBD - the central father figure in Everywhere You Don't Belong is Paul, whose life carries as much sadness as any of the other characters', but it never has anything to do with his being gay;
2. and speaking of sadness, writing about some of the more harsh realities of being black without worrying about how that would come across to the mainstream white gaze - in Claude McKay's case, this opened him up to criticism from well-respected African American thinkers such as W.E.B. Dubois, who accused him of playing to white mainstream's worst fears about black people. Likewise, Bump doesn't seem to hold anything back about what growing up in Chicago's South Side was like, but alongside the grim aspects, there's a definite sense of community, pride, and love.(less)

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Angela M
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
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
Chris Blocker
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nancy Oakes
Feb 07, 2020 rated it really liked it

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
Dec 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: african-american
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. ...more
Lorrea - WhatChaReadin'?
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 ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
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
Nov 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arc
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
Greg Zimmerman
Feb 01, 2020 rated it really liked it

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
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
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
Emi Bevacqua
Aug 02, 2019 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
I'd be lying if I said this coming-of-age story about Claude didn't make me uncomfortable at times whatwith the violent upbringing in Chicago's South Shore by his grandma and her live-in partner of sorts, the inappropriate sexual relationship he shares with his little friend Janice, and basic lack of communication between all parties regarding all and sundry.

What I did really like was Claude's awareness of black history, white privilege and social justice; his list of six important dates in
Greta (botanyandbookends) Sutherland
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
Ms YaYa
Feb 08, 2020 rated it liked it
* 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
The Happy Bibliophile
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was ok
The MC is unimpressive and mediocre, as is the plot (if you can even call it that) of this book.
Feb 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
Exactly the kind of book I needed to pull myself out of the depression. Thank you to Mark for recommending it.
Rachel León
You can read my review from Chicago Review of Books here:
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-read-2019
Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a very good debut novel. Gabriel Bump’s characters, Claude, Janice, Grandma, and Paul, show a lot of passion, whether it be anger, love or laughter. The elders, Grandma and Paul, have found their place, Chicago’s South Shore. At least, it’s a known. Grandma tells Claude, “The entire universe is ruined…And no one wants us anywhere.” She thinks this will keep her grandson in Chicago, but Claude knows it’s not for him and Janice finds out almost too late that it’s not ...more
Stacie C
Dec 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
Actual rating is somewhere between 3.5-4 stars. I just can't put my finger on it. review to come.
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Claude, the main character, is a typical teen despite his somewhat unusual upbringing in South Shore, Chicago (where Bump himself grew up). He struggles with abandonment issues (his parents left him to be raised by his grandmother, his friends keep moving to "better" neighborhoods). Only Janice stays, and Janice should have some abandonment issues of her own. She channels her issues into hared of the gang who instigated a riot.

Despite his often feeling out of place (even with Janice's friends)
Claire M.
Feb 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Algonquin Book Tour stop! Everywhere You Don’t Belong is a debut novel from Gabriel Bump set in the South Side of Chicago that focuses on a young black man named Claude McKay Love. Raised by his civil rights-era grandmother, Claude faces typical teenage struggles but also struggles to live up to the expectations set for him. His grandmother dreams of him being an activist. When riots erupt in their neighborhood, he hesitates to get involved. In the second part of this book, Claude moves far away ...more
Feb 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
There's a lot that's good here. I appreciate a novel that addresses structural issues like racism and violence through and personal and idiosyncratic story. I liked that there was humor and beauty to be found, even in the midst of tragedy and destruction. But I also felt like this novel was so short and impressionistic that I couldn't really get a handle on it. I would have loved to see a big, sprawling, Dickensian saga with these same characters.

Also, some excellent prose about basketball (a
Feb 10, 2020 rated it liked it
I received this as an advance copy from Algonquin Books. Thank you. I had read some of the reviews prior to starting the book and kept an open mind. I agree that not everyone will be wowed by this book. I enjoyed the characters, but everyone seems rather lost and without any kind of direction. The book wanders from place to place and thought to thought. Although I kept an open mind, I guess I was hoping the book would go somewhere, make more of a statement. That said, I liked Claude, the main ...more
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Feb 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
So far out of my realm as an older white woman this book really pulled me in. Telling the life of Claude whose parents abandon him and he is raised by his grandmother on the south side of Chicago would not be my normal reading choice but so glad I read this book. Getting past the jargon initially held me up but soon I was in the swing of Claude's life and admired him and especially his grandmother for staying together as a family. So well written!
Shawn Mooney (Shawn The Book Maniac)
I did a quarter of this on audio, and while there were glimmers here and there of some literary talent, nothing grabbed me enough to continue. Life‘s too short.
Bill Silva
Feb 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Comic, tragic (with some tragedy played as comedy), poignant, and biting in its satire and social commentary. Despite a sense of being underdeveloped in places and unfinished (there is a whole novel in Claude's college experiences), this is an appealing and provocative debut by a talented writer. Much to enjoy here.
Jami Sailor
Love the style of writing but lost patience after awhile.
South (Shore) side trauma and wonder.
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
*Thanks to Goodreads and Algonquin books for a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gabriel Bump's debut novel is composed of short, sometimes funny yet also poignant sketches in the life of Claude, a young black man growing up in Chicago's South Shore neighborhood. Raised by his grandmother after his restless parents abandon him, Claude is struggling to find his place in the world. I enjoyed his writing style and watching Claude grow into a smart, sensitive
Feb 07, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, illinois
If this hadn’t been such a short book i probably wouldn’t have finished it. It was somewhat entertaining, with moments that made me laugh and moments that made me gasp and cringe. But there isn’t much of a plot; it’s more like a series of loosely connected essays in the beginning which eventually sort of coalesce but don’t really resolve.
Feb 03, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
*Thanks to Goodreads and Algonquin books for a free Advanced Reading Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Gabriel Bump's debut novel is composed of short, sometimes funny yet also poignant sketches in the life of Claude, a young black man growing up in Chicago's South Shore. Raised by his grandmother after his restless parents abandon him, Claude is struggling to find his place in the world. I enjoyed his writing style and watching Claude grow into a smart, sensitive young man. The
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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.