Day 14: Ernest Hill


One day, we’ll probably actually get rid of the terms “boy” book, “black” book and other such tags that dictates who the reader should be. But until then, so that everyone is speaking the same language and so that gatekeepers get an idea of who the lowest hanging fruit audience is for a novel – the categories remain.

Ernest Hill has lent his talents to help fill the void in books available to African American teen boys.  His work is realistic and speaks to the sometimes harsh realities of what being young, male and Black is like.

The sequel to Hill’s, A Life For A Life, Family Ties follows main character D’Ray upon his release from jail.

A Life For A Life

D’Ray is 15 when a local drug dealer threatens to kill his younger brother unless he comes up with $100 within an hour. Panicked and desperate, D’Ray decides to hold up a convenience store. In the process, he kills another person, the teenage clerk who tries to foil the holdup. D’Ray escapes and makes a living as a pimp before he’s caught and sentenced to six years in jail. In jail he finds God and Mr. Henry, the father of the dead teenage clerk. Mr. Henry insists that D’Ray become a credit to his race and also be the replacement for his dead son, the one D’Ray killed.

Satisfied With Nothin’
Fifteen years after court imposed desegregation, Jamie Ray Griffin is among the first students at his Louisiana high school to integrate. Berated by many of his white classmates, Jamie channels his anger into football and lands a starring role. The brutal assault and lynching of his cousin prompts him to enroll in a black college in pursuit of a career in football. When an injury sidelines him for good and his grades slip beyond resurrection, Jamie returns to a low-paying job in his hometown and begins to confront the truth about himself.

The Buzz on Ernest Hill

“An exceptional literary piece that some readers will compare to Richard Wright’s Native Son.” Booklist on Satisfied with Nothin’

“A skilled storyteller.” New York Times Book Review

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3 Responses to Day 14: Ernest Hill

  1. tanita says:

    While I’ve heard of Mr. Hill, his books, I believed, were pitched mainly to adults. These books definitely have that gritty realism thing going on, and would appeal to a lot of readers.

  2. Paula says:

    Tanita, I agree. Hills books are more geared towards adults. But, in light of the tug needed to get guys to read sometimes, I think that’s probably a good thing that the books skew a bit older.

  3. Edi says:

    I think his books are ideal for jr/sr high school readers. They are the stories that draw young men, the stories are quite safe for any school library and they’re well written. They’re good to help YAs trying to transition to adulthood.

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