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Finlater by Shawn Stewart Ruff

Finlater (edition 2008)

by Shawn Stewart Ruff

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625191,731 (4.29)None
Authors:Shawn Stewart Ruff
Info:Quote Editions (2008), Edition: 1, Paperback, 292 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:GLBTRT, Rainbow Book List, 2010

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Finlater by Shawn Stewart Ruff


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Showing 5 of 5
The really great thing about this book is that you really feel like your in the character's head.

I've seen a couple people say it's too graphic or some such. I think that's ridiculous. It has some sex and swearing, but nobody's eating babies or anything, and the book's not loaded down with it.

Great character development, good story, touches the heart while still being realistic and very much not rose-tinted.

I really hope the author publishes more books, and I'm very glad I won a copy. On a completely not-writing related note, the cover texture and design inside were very cool and unique. ( )
  broccolima | Jan 26, 2014 |
Okay, so Smetch loved this book SO much that I bought it without even reading what it was about!

I didn't love it as much as Smetchie, but I didn't hate it either. I was attached to Cliffy as a character, and the writing was well done. It was just so dang depressing to me, from the ghetto and bakini dad, to depression and child abuse.

I doubt I would have purchased or read this book if not for Smetch's enthusiasm. However, if you like a sad story about a poor black kid who falls in love with his Jewish best friend along with a whole lot of sorrow in both of their family lives, then by all means, this book will be perfect for you. ( )
  Ameliapei | Apr 18, 2013 |
I love Cliffy! He is thoughtful, intelligent, sympathetic, and kind in a sea of ugliness and hatred.

Finlater is set in the projects of Cincinnati in the barely post-segregation 1970s. The 13-year-old spelling champion and hero of this book enchanted me from the start. Intelligent Cliffy skips the 7th grade and meets his "soul brother," Noah. The boys are instantly drawn to each other and are launched into an amazing friendship that becomes so much more and teaches them about the overwhelming power of love. They cling to each other in the face of racial tension and crumbling families. Cliffy is struggling with the return of a father he's never known, who he refers to as "Bikini Dad" due to his choice of lounge wear. Noah's family is strained by mental illness. The child's vantage point created by author Shawn Stewart Ruff is honest and true and the characters are unforgettable. When I did manage to put this book down I couldn't stop thinking about them. It's tender and raunchy, sweet and real.

Some favorite moments:

[elderly German neighbor upon discovering that the new man around Cliffy's house is his dad.:]
"He's no dad. He's a child. A man-child. You more a man that he is. He break your mother's heart. The schwartze with big pee-pees is the reason for all these black children without fathers. Look at his underwear, you'll see.' She had a point about the underwear. According to the laundry blowing on the clotheslines, nobody's dad in our part of Finlater wore such fancy drawers".

[Cliffy's mom when she learns he doesn't want Noah to see where he lives.:]
"The only thing you should be ashamed of is the fact that you're ashamed. We don't choose our families or our families' situations. Hopefully you'll do better in your life than I have."

[regarding an older boy who had foreign porn mags.:]
"He could procure Swedish Pussy, and I guess it went to his head."

( )
  smetchie | Apr 2, 2013 |
Thirteen year old Cliffy Douglas, black and intelligent, lives in Cincinnati with his mother, two brothers and recently returned father. He tells of the time he was promoted a grade at school, and joins the class of older students to be seated in the only vacant space next to the Jewish boy Noah. The two boys soon become “soul brothers” and then lovers; Cliffy wants to convert to Judaism.

But life is not easy for the two boys, prejudice is rife, Cliffy's family has his own problems not least of which is the reappearance of his philandering and flamboyant dad. His mother desperately wants to escape the depressed area in which they live. His older brother hates his newly found father while his younger brother dotes on him. Noah's family is everything Cliffy's is not, but Noah's father is not well, and this causes Noah much distress. The two boys plant to run away, but events will eventually overtake them.

Cliffy is a delightful narrator, torn between loyalties to his much loved mother and his growing love for Noah, and his increasing worries at condemnation for his relationship with Noah, he always manages to remain positive. Finlater is a beautiful , moving and well written story. It is worth mentioning too that the book is imaginatively produced, its all matt-black cover has full size flaps and it is printed on heavy quality paper, it's a book you will want to keep for more reasons than one. ( )
  presto | Apr 23, 2012 |
A quiet revolution has occurred in fiction for and about young adults in recent years. Keeping up with changes in the larger culture, young adult authors are writing grittier works, with a greater attention to social detail, using stronger, more realistic language that might be shocking to adults who have not been paying close enough attention to the lyrics of recent pop, hip-hop and rap songs. Since the breakthrough of Alex Sanchez and his “Rainbow” trilogy (Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, Rainbow Road), there have been more openly gay and lesbian young characters appearing as well. Writers for adult audiences such as Brian Malloy (The Year of Ice, 2003), Alphonso Morgan (Sons, 2005), and Bil Wright (Sunday You Learn How to Box, 2000) have also used teen and pre-teen protagonists as a way to view the world through sharp, naïve yet sensitive, eyes.

Finlater deserves high marks as part of this later trend. Attempts to recreate the voices of young African Americans wrestling with their sexuality remain sadly rare. Author Shawn Stewart Ruff, editor of Go the Way Your Blood Beats: An Anthology of Lesbian and Gay Fiction by African American Writers, has done it here with apparent ease. Only occasionally does he let a word or phrase slip by that takes the reader outside young Cliffy’s world view. His portraits of Cliffy and Noah’s relationship and their imperfect families ring true. In particular the scenes with Cliffy and his brothers, the totally devoted young Corey and the older, proto-tough guy, Dudley; their mother, Lacey, who the boys suspect is starting to neglect them in order to keep their still rambling father around; and their “Bikini Dad” Clifford Sr., walk a perfectly pitched line between touching and disturbing.

  rmharris | Jul 22, 2010 |
Showing 5 of 5
added by gsc55 | editMichael Joseph Reviews (Nov 18, 2014)
The connection between the boys is priceless, from their wonderfully natural intimacy to their false bravado that gets quickly chipped down to honesty through discussions about how Jews are like blacks and about the boys’ fathers, each tragically flawed in very different ways. Though Ruff’s language is a bit off at times—peppered with colloquialisms like “Us kids’ birthdays were different” that seem jarringly out of step with his otherwise proper use of English—it’s mostly just evocative and mesmerizing. And the story itself is a gem.

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In this acclaimed first novel---winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Debut Fiction 2008, and finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction---the course of growing up in just-this-side-of-segregation 1970s Cincinnati, Ohio, seems predictable if uninspiring for Cliffy Douglas. That is, until the deadbeat father of this gifted 13-year-old black kid from the Findlater Gardens Projects appears out of nowhere. The real fun and trouble begin when Noah, a Jewish boy he meets in junior high school, takes him on a joyride to lust and love.
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