3.5 out of 5 stars.
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Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope.
As compelling an urban portrait as The Wire and a touching love story, Say Nice Things About Detroit takes place in a racially polarized, economically collapsing city that doesn’t seem like a place for rebirth. But as David tries to make sense of the mystery behind Natalie’s death and puts back the pieces of his own life, he is forced to answer a simple question: if you want to go home again, what do you do if home is Detroit?
Say Nice Things About Detroit by Scott Lasser is a short, but fun novel. I wasn’t sure at first if I was going to like the book because I was thinking it was all set in the City of Detroit and the first part of the book was talking about some of the outlying suburbs, like Birmingham (and for those not from Detroit, anyone here will tell you, Birmingham is not Detroit). However, the more I got into the story, the more I liked it.
While Mr. Lasser didn’t sugar coat the problems that the City of Detroit and its residents are facing, nor did he paint them in a bad light. He stated them objectively and accurately but also made sure to point out some of the nicer aspects of the city. He also weaved the various story lines together quite well and told a convincing story that wasn’t overwhelming in violence.
It was a good hometown read for me. I recommend it if you’re looking for a short read in an urban setting.