Monday, September 1, 2014

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace is a memoir of sorts.  Jeff Hobbs met Robert Peace when the two shared a dorm room in college.  At the time they lived together Hobbs felt like he knew a bit about Peace, but he certainly did not fully understand how Peace's life before college differed from his own.

Peace grew up in the 1980s with his mom barely making ends meet. His parents had never married, and his dad was serving a life sentence in prison for murder. His father was a presence in his life before he was imprisoned, and Peace continued to visit him and write him, always looking for ways to help his dad prove his innocence for the rest of his life.

Despite the hardships of his upbringing, Peace was a great student and attended Yale University, earning degrees in molecular biochemistry and biophysics.  He visited guys from his neighborhood when at home, still staying connected to his roots.  

And Peace did more than just stay connected to his roots. Eventually Peace became involved in his own drug trade, making a lot of money by providing drugs to college students and his friends. 

Although Peace was a master at bridging both worlds, and a brilliant young man, eventually the risks he takes catch up with him.

Hobbs is stunned to learn of his friend, Robert Peace's death.  By interviewing a wide range of friends and family members, he has managed to piece together a fuller picture of Robert Peace than the portion he had been privy to as his roommate.  

Hobbs' book was nearly impossible to put down, and despite knowing how Robert Peace's life played out, I couldn't help but hope the ending would be different. In addition to Peace's life story, Hobbs has managed to portray how difficult it is for a black man from Peace's neighborhood to truly disassociate himself from the friends and family he has grown up with.

I read this book as an ARC from Netgalley months before its publication, and I am still thinking about Robert Peace and his short and tragic life.

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