Dangerous Times, The
Posted Jul 5 2006
As I read the back cover of The Dangerous Times I found myself thinking, "here we go again...another hip hop/urban/hood fiction book." Well, it did have some elements of that genre. A youngster finds himself caught up in the streets and learns to value life after several shootouts, fights, and criminal enterprises. He actually has a good heart, but keeps making poor decisions, hurting those whom he loves in the process. The book starts off with a plot worthy of a young Scarface, then works its way back, coming full circle. Although the main characters run the city like Jesse james in his prime Berry does make an effort to make make them, particularly the main character Troy, out to be more complex. In spite of Berry's best efforts I just didn't find myself empathizing with Troy. I kept wanting him to get his act together and use the intelligence he obviously had to turn that corner to positivity. I was actually glad that his lady had the strength to leave him. But as harsh as I sound, this book is about Troy's life as a pre-teen up into his twenties, which Berry calls "The Dangerous Times," when people are more guided by emotion and their peers than reason and elders. During that time period I got myself into plenty of jams that I wouldn't want to be judged on right now and I had some support systems in place that got me through. Granted, the character of Troy faced more hardships, but as Berry notes, there were positive people on his side and he made certain choices that he had to pay the consequences for. I mean, damn! How many people do you have to shoot before you figure out there will be hell to pay? It's easy to get caught up, but damn!
This was a quick read and undoubtedly one that will be popular with the younger set. It's action packed and has a message of redemption. Those from Cleveland will appreciate all of the local references. For older dudes like me, after a lifetime of The Godfather, Scarface, Monster Cody, NWA, The Geto Boys, Mi Vida Loca, Young Boys Incorporated, some personal experiences, and countless other gangbangin' shoot 'em up tales, these types of stories have lost their luster. Guess that's why I became a teacher. This shouldn't deter you if you're interested in reading this book. Just know that there are no surprises here. Berry delivers exactly what he describes. He has several projects in the works and with that work ethic I can give him nothing but respect and it'll be interesting to see where his career takes him.
BTW, there a few of hip-hop references here. Not enough to make it a "hip-hop book," but a couple that brought a smile to my face.