Cover image for The short and tragic life of Robert Peace : a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League
Title:
The short and tragic life of Robert Peace : a brilliant young man who left Newark for the Ivy League
Author:
Hobbs, Jeff, 1980-
Personal Author:
Edition:
First Scribner hardcover edition.
Publication Information:
New York, NY : Scribner, 2014.
Physical Description:
viii, 406 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Summary:
Examines "the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets--and of one's own nature--when he returns home"--Amazon.com.
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781476731902
Format :
Book

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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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E185.97.P38 H63 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

A heartfelt, and riveting biography of the short life of a talented young African-American man who escapes the slums of Newark for Yale University only to succumb to the dangers of the streets-and of one's own nature-when he returns home.

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert's life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn't get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, "fronting" in Yale, and at home.

Through an honest rendering of Robert's relationships-with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends and fellow drug dealers- The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It's about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds-the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It's about poverty, the challenges of single motherhood, and the struggle to find male role models in a community where a man is more likely to go to prison than to college. It's about reaching one's greatest potential and taking responsibility for your family no matter the cost. It's about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all the story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and unforgettable.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Rob Peace's father was a very bright drug dealer who served time for murder, leaving Rob in the care of a hardworking mother who wanted more for him than the tough streets of Orange, New Jersey, could provide. Peace started private school in fourth grade, just as his father's trial was beginning, and developed elaborate emotional and psychological strategies to navigate the neighborhood and Newark-proof himself. In high school, he undertook ponderous research to prove his father's innocence and eventually won a temporary reprieve on a technicality. His brilliance attracted the attention of a benefactor who made it possible for Peace to go to Yale, where he met and roomed with Hobbs. Peace majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, worked in the dining hall and biology lab, and sold drugs on the side. In a whirlwind of travel, philosophizing, and caretaking of others, Peace navigated the clashing cultures of urban poverty and Ivy League privilege, never quite finding a place where his particular brand of nerdiness and cool could coexist. His dreams and his reality collided when he was killed at 30 years of age in a drug dispute. Attending Peace's funeral, Hobbs was struck by the dichotomies of his old roommate's life and set out to offer a full picture of a very complicated individual. Writing with the intimacy of a close friend, Hobbs slowly reveals Peace as far more than a cliché of amazing potential squandered.--Bush, Vanessa Copyright 2014 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

A man with seemingly every opportunity loses his way in this compelling biographical saga. Novelist Hobbs (The Tourists) chronicles the life of Peace, who was born in a Newark, N.J., ghetto to an impoverished single mom and a father who went to prison for murder. Thanks to his mother's sacrifices and his extraordinary intellect he went to Yale and got a biology degree but when he returned to Newark after college, he became a drug dealer and was eventually shot to death by rivals. Writing with novelistic detail and deep insight, Hobbs, who was Peace's roommate at Yale, registers the disadvantages his friend faced while avoiding hackneyed fatalism and sociology. Hobbs reveals a man whose singular experience and charisma made him simultaneously an outsider and a leader in both New Haven and Newark, Peace was a pillar of his family and community, superbly capable in both settings, but he could not reconcile their conflicting demands. (The author's indelible portrait of Peace's inner-city neighborhood shows how it could draw him back from the world his talent and education had opened.) This is a classic tragedy of a man who, with the best intentions, chooses an ineluctable path to disaster. Photos. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Library Journal Review

Hobbs (The Tourists) reconstructs the life and thoughts of Rob Peace-his close friend and roommate for four years at Yale University-after his friend's untimely death. Peace left Newark, NJ, to study biochemistry and biophysics at Yale and become a teacher in his hometown yet unexpectedly fell victim to the drug trade. Hobbs uses creative nonfiction to re-create conversations and events in Peace's life. The resulting portrait of Peace is nuanced, contradictory, elusive, and probing, with the author almost deifying his deceased friend. Hobbs is honest about his own shortcomings and addresses the difficulties he had overcoming the class and racial differences between himself and Peace. At its core, the story compels readers to question how much one can really know about another person. Peace seems to step in and out of focus as Hobbs sees him through the eyes of one companion after another. Heavily detailed, this title brings to mind memoirs such as Cupcake Brown's A Piece of Cake, if her story had been told by her very skilled novelist roommate. VERDICT An intelligent, provocative book, recommended for any biography lover. [See Prepub Alert, 3/3/14.]-Jessica Spears, Monroe Coll. Lib., Bronx, NY (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.