Black and White

Fiction - Urban
340 Pages
Reviewed on 06/07/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Ben Burgess Jr is the author of the award-winning novels "Monster", "Wounded", “Love and Happiness”, “ Daddy’s Girl", and the new novel "Black and White." He is an active performer of spoken word poetry. Ben Burgess Jr uses his love of writing to inspire and influence youths to strive for what they believe in, and to never give up on their dreams. His novels "Monster" and “Wounded” are currently used in schools on the lower east side of Manhattan. Ben Burgess has a BA degree in Business Management and an MA degree in Educational Leadership. He is the proud father of his daughter Jaelynn and is active in trying to improve urban neighborhoods and communities.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ray Simmons for Readers' Favorite

There are a lot of things you can say about Black and White by Ben Burgess Jr. A lot of good things actually. But the thing that kept popping into my mind as I read it is that this novel is so timely. The Obama era has just finished and the Trump era is just beginning. As far as race relations and racial politics go, America seems to be a very angry and confused place. I don’t go out of my way to read novels like Black and White. They can be a little depressing if they are not told just right. Everybody has a different idea about what “just right” is, but for me, Ben Burgess gets it exactly right in Black and White. It is a controversial and emotional subject, but it is a great novel. Good writing can make the controversial exciting and even appealing. Ben Burgess isn't a good writer. He’s a great one.

Black and White takes two racially charged legal cases that would be problematic for any attorney and gives them to a team that consists of one black lawyer and a white one. They have very different backgrounds. They have very different lives, even though they work for the same firm. This entire novel is a study in the contrast between white lives in America and black lives in America. Ben Burgess writes about this difference, not by telling us but by showing us. Black and White is about as realistic as writing can get. It takes a master to get America just right in a story like this and Ben Burgess does a masterful job of dissecting life from various social, economic, and legal perspectives.

Divine Zape

Black and White by Ben Burgess Jr. begins with an emergency situation and introduces a conflict that escalates pretty quickly: “Sergeant, be advised: I'm now being told by various callers that this is a 10-13; officers need immediate assistance. Callers are stating that two cops and two unidentified males have been shot. Are there units to back the sergeant and confirm?” A notable law firm has tumbled on two serious cases: a rape involving a white NBA star player and a black hooker, and a murder case involving a black rapper and a gay couple. Bill O'Neil and Ben Turner take on the cases and thus begins a legal ride that will test everything they learned at law school and their core fundamental values and beliefs. This is urban fiction at its best and it’s a ride, a very fast and thrilling one.

The first element of this novel that captivated me was the enormous conflict which involves racism, indicated through the novel by the great dialogues. Here is an invective that captures racism in one of the interesting conversations: “Shut up, you ugly Black monkey, before I tell Uncle Curtis not to give your bum ass family any food.” The reader will have a keen interest in the balance that comes through between character, plot, and setting. One has the impression they are reading a well-calculated and beautifully executed drama. The writing is great and it features exciting conversations that help to deepen plot and character. This is a story that succinctly displays the reality of racism in the US. Ben Burgess Jr. has a gift for plot and character and Black and White handles one of the controversial themes in today’s American debate; a really satisfying read.

Danita Dyess

Two criminal cases. Two attorneys. One law firm. In Ben Burgess's Black and White, four people are dead - two cops and two gay men. Since Reggie (aka Co-Kayne) was seen threatening the homosexuals and his fingerprint was found on the gun, the famous rapper stands accused. But Ben, a black pedigreed attorney with the Wayne, Rothstein and Lincoln law firm, will work tirelessly to defend Reggie, even though Ben is not the kind of tough lawyer Reggie believes will win his case. Furthermore, Bill, a white attorney, also works for the firm. His client, Johnny Alfieri, is an NBA superstar accused of raping Sophia, a stripper who refuses to take quick cash and disappear. But the real question in Bill's "he said/she said" case is not whether Alfieri committed a felony, but whether the prosecution can prove it. So how will these two attorneys' lives interconnect to create a fast-paced, complex story filled with lies, family, sex and racial tension?

Black and White is not just a crime story but a coming-of-age novel. The cases mirror modern events. Chapters revealing the in-depth histories of the characters added another dimension. Ben Burgess did an excellent job with dialogue that was real and laced with sexually explicit content. I identified with Ben and his issue with not being "black enough." I loved the flashbacks to the old neighborhoods, the true depiction of complex family ties, and the unique issues of interracial relationships. Black and White is highly recommended.