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Reviewed by Bil Howard for Readers' Favorite
When things get tough, we all look for something or someone to lean on; some turn to booze, drugs or money while others discover that family and friends are best to hold them up. Jevon E. Thompson tells the story of a family struggling to stay together and lean on each other in Crutches. Ashamed of herself and knowing that she can do better, Vivian decides to take her two children and move out of her parents’ house. If she is going to be able to fight booze, she’s going to have to make up her mind to do it on her own. Robin and Little Von, her two sons, are not particularly trusting of their mother’s ability to stay sober, and therefore have battles of their own to fight as they try to adjust to life in “the projects.” As 5-year-old Little Von looks at the scary world around him, he learns to lean on his older brother Robin. Robin has the typical struggles of a high school teen to face, but with the added pressure of having to take care of his little brother while their mother struggles to straighten out her life. As each work their way through their own personal battles, will they be able to come together and find strength or fall prey to the harsh living of the projects.
Crutches is a novel that is full of both triumph and tragedy. Jevon E. Thompson expertly weaves and intertwines the lives of this struggling family into a tangled web of conflict which is nearly impossible to survive. All too true of Afro-American culture in general and especially in 1957, the gripping truth of this story is very real. Thompson does an excellent job of contrasting different lives around Vivian, Robin and Little Von as a measuring stick against which the reader can see their progress and understand the pressures that are in constant motion around them. Every individual and every family has their struggles, but those who survive and become stronger have learned to lean upon those things which support them rather than continue to pull them down. You won’t have dry eyes while reading Crutches if you truly understand the depth of despair to which this family is plunged and the height of victory they achieve. Tragic, inspiring and honest!