Black and White by Ben Burgess Jr
Ben Burgess Jr. shines a light on a powerful issue within the pages of Black and White. Focusing on four main characters, Burgess tells the story of the challenge of being a black man in what many would likely agree is still viewed as a white man’s world. Lawyers, Ben Turner and Bill O’Neil, are not only pitted against one another within their law firm by being given cases that cause personal turmoil for each of them but they both are involved in interracial romantic relationships. The story doesn’t remain solely focused on the murders and rape that Black and White start off with, but instead includes how difficult it is to be respected as a human being even within one’s own race. In the end, Burgess offers closure for the characters as he wraps up their criminal cases and shares an epilogue. He also includes discussion questions, which is a wonderful feature.
In many ways, Black and White is a great book as it doesn’t try to hide the prejudice that still reigns between races and within one’s own race. For that reason, it is a very important story to have available for readers black or white. However, Burgess misses the mark with development. Jumping back and forth between the present and the past is somewhat confusing and there is too much of the past pulled into the story. Adding depth to the characters can be done without adding in longer scenes from the past. As the story began with the two criminal cases, it would have been better to explore more about the characters by expanding on the original focus of Black and White. Ben Burgess Jr. offers promise as a writer and in his efforts to highlight issues that many would prefer to push under the rug. Therefore, even though Black and White’s story line needs to be tightened up, it is an overall good read.
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