B.W. McKay’s second novel’s opening had me riveted to the page. Darnell Scott, the protagonist, is running for Congress. If elected, he would become the first black man to represent Utah in the Senate. His opponent—Joe Sudden—a former high school friend, has accused him of the unthinkable. The false accusation has Darnell reeling and second-guessing the part he may have played in this untimely, egregious situation. How did Darnell come so far— only to end up here with everything he’s worked for in the balance?
McKay shows us what happened and how Darnell arrived at this point in time with a beautifully woven story that is moving, powerful, realistic, and inspiring. His words dance on the page. Adeptly writing in first person POV, McKay takes us into the mind and heart of Darnell, a young African American man who is coming of age. We get to know Darnell inside and out. We’re able to see the world through his young eyes. We can taste and feel his dreams. McKay has created a three-dimensional character that you will find yourself cheering on, rooting for, and experiencing his every high and low. McKay is a master at telling extraordinary stories from a black perspective that nonetheless embody universal ideas that make them appeal to all races and ethnicities.
McKay begins the story with Darnell and his family moving from Atlanta to Utah. As a young man, Darnel eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball. And he’s good at it. So good that he becomes an instant basketball star at his new high school, Mountain Ridge High. However, he doesn’t get there without some battle scars. However, there’s one bright spark. Darnell meets Joe Sudden and they become fast friends. Their relationship isn’t problem free and Darnell soon learns that Joe is clueless about black people. Nonetheless, they continue trudging the rocky road of high school life together.
While in Mountain Ridge, Darnell discovers the West Side that’s heavily populated with African Americans. He also learns about the ugly history of the West Side from his new mentor, Dr. Louis Mosely. Dr. Mosley tells Darnell about how the West Side of Mountain Ridge once had a thriving populace. However, in the twenties, their homes and businesses were torched and burned to the ground by whites. Black men were slaughtered like animals in the streets. Darnell, who thought those kind of atrocities had only taken place in the South, was shocked to hear what Dr. Mosley was telling him. Dr. Mosely’s words and Darnell’s firsthand experience with the inequities and injustices that were currently taking place in the West Side of Mountain Ridge, sparked a deep desire in him to help the African American people living there. His new awareness resulted in making a shocking decision that no one saw coming.
After graduating from law school and passing the bar, Darnell, now a practicing lawyer in Washington D.C., ends up back in Mountain Ridge and making a foray into politics to make a change—“tearing down the walls” as his slogan says. But will Joe Sudden’s accusation turn out to be true, thereby destroying Darnell and everything he has worked for—a beautiful supportive wife, twin daughters, and a successful political career? Wanting to get the answer to that question and McKay’s stunning writing kept me turning the pages.
Bravo B.W. McKay!