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The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A…

The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace: A Brilliant Young Man Who Left…

by Jeff Hobbs

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5273129,010 (4.15)17

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Showing 1-5 of 31 (next | show all)
So devastating but an ultimately enlightening read about a young man who couldn't/didn't want to escape from where he came from. ( )
  Katie_Roscher | Jan 18, 2019 |
Tragic is certainly an appropriate word to apply to the story of a young man who had nothing going for him, then everything, and then nothing again. So much potential to be nurtured, so much promise unfulfilled and so much frustration and dead ends to deal with. Robert "Shawn" Peace grew up in a challenging setting, with a loving father ripped from his life in a heartbreaking way, was able to apply his magnificent brains and amazing attitude so well that he seemed to overcome his upbringing, obtaining a scholarship to Yale. Unfortunately, this book seems to be saying "You can take a boy out of the 'hood, but..."
I felt so much for Rob, being only a year younger we confronted the same zeitgeist, but my upbringing, barely half a country away from his was so disparate, it could've been too separate worlds. I appreciate Jeff Hobbs, Rob's Yale roommate, so much for introducing us to such an amazing young man, giving others the chance to mourn him, and hopefully motivate us to change things in this country for those who come after. A very moving, poignant, and heartbreaking tribute. ( )
  EmScape | Jun 2, 2018 |
The sad story of a young man gone too soon Rob Peace was a gifted young black who overcame quite a bit of childhood setbacks (raised by a single mother who worked multiple jobs to put him through school as his father was jailed for murder) to go onto Yale. And yet, despite the lofty academic heights Rob Peace reached, eventually his life would be snuffed out all too soon by two bullets.
Told by his college roommate, Jeff Hobbs, the reader follows Rob as he grows up, watches his father (who dealt drugs) be jailed for murder for life in questionable (at best) circumstances. Despite this, Rob keeps hope alive that his father, Skeet, will one day be released and his conviction overturned. Meanwhile, Rob's mother Jackie has to put her son through school, recognizing his talent and discipline academically, working multiple jobs and long shifts to put her son through private school.
Not unlike many his age, Rob eventually begins smoking weed, drinking alcohol, but he has the ability to appear (and function, it looks like) exactly the same when high/drunk vs. sober and clean. And that gets him through high school and onto college. A benefactor gives the family the money to attend any school Rob would want. As circumstance dictates, he does not get his first choice, John Hopkins in Baltimore. So instead he goes to Yale.
There I felt the book began to drift a bit. The author appears (as they were roommates and met in person on move-in day). Hobbs inserts himself a bit, but it's not that much of a problem. Overall it's really more the story begins to drift a bit, perhaps as Rob himself did. Eventually the 4 (he and Rob had two roommates) graduate Yale and move on to adulthood.
But despite everything, Rob can't seem to get a better job despite his degree. He teaches at his high school for a while, and eventually begins dealing drugs. Like many similar  stories, Rob's life ends in gunfire. And like so many of those stories, the murderer(s) have not been found.
Hobbs stays away from political/sociological/etc. statements about this, as he's merely telling his friend's life story. He clearly shows Rob is no angel and did make detrimental choices here and there, with big implications (obviously) and some with smaller, less devastating. But Rob was clearly a disciplined man who would put in hours and hours of studying and careful notetaking when it came to studying, with probably at least some inherent talent (he pointed at words that were read to him at the age of one, could memorize simple sentences at the age of two, etc.).
Was Rob the product of his upbringing? Did he make a final, fatal choice that ultimately wiped everything else? Was it a mix of the two? What could society have done to help Rob and others like him? CAN it? Hobbs stays away from these questions, but they are there, between the lines. Hobbs also acknowledges he is obviously unable to show what Rob's thinking was, which is a bit of a detriment to the book (there were times when I wanted to ask WHY WHY WHY),but overall he does a great job as an outsider looking in.
A GREAT companion book to read would be The Other Wes Moore. The author has somewhat similar circumstances to Rob Peace: Moore is a black man who was raised by a single mother and eventually was sent to military school for his disciplinary issues. Moore would go on to serve in the US Military.
I borrowed this book from the library, but would absolutely recommend it to buy as well. ( )
  acciolibros | Feb 11, 2018 |
Listened to audiobook which had a really good narrator. Great story with some important messages. One is prone to think of how this young man squandered a great opportunity, but counter to that is one of the themes of the book: despite being endlessly talent call Robert Peace a mere drug dealer, but others would point out that the upbringing forced on him because of the color of his skin forced him to sell marijuana rather than pursue interests he was qualified for.
The author of this book details his life with Peace and his own development as a college student that became a novelist. “This book is written like a novel” is a common compliment given to non-fiction books, but in this case it would not be a compliment, or at least how Hobbs composed this book. Though I am impressed by how thorough his research was in the retelling of Peace’s life, I found myself cringing at the times that a chapter would end with a cliffhanger referring to the ending of a person’s life. In a novel this manipulation keeps a reader coming back for more. In non-fiction it makes the reader think that author’s goal is to keep the reader in suspense and dance around their emotions, rather than just report the events in a straight forward manner.
A good book that I would recommend to the teen readers of our library, though I might worry about preconceived stereotypes being confirmed by uncareful readers. ( )
  rdwhitenack | Jan 28, 2018 |
I was eager to read this book. Once I did, it left me with more questions than answers and it made me think a lot. ( )
  Jewel.Barnett | Sep 6, 2017 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 147673190X, Hardcover)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:47 -0400)

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.

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