Over the past few years, I have watched a member of my church carry around a yellow legal pad, scribbling and scribbling. I don’t know her very well, and I never took the initiative to ask what she was writing. Maybe it wasn’t any of my business.
To my surprise, her scribblings turned out to be a novel which actually got published. Popular reviews on amazon.com were positive and we wanted to support our friend, so our church book club decided to choose Pull for one of our monthly titles.
Pull by B.A. Binns tells the story of an African-American teenager who has lost his bearings due to his mother’s death at the hands of his abusive father, a death which he feels he might have prevented. Since Dad is in jail, David and his two sisters are reluctantly taken in by a relative, rather than separating the family in foster care. The kids move to a city neighborhood where their aunt lives, and David leaves his high school basketball stardom behind to go to an inner city high school where his attempts to remain anonymous are thwarted by relationships with both students and faculty. In order to help support the family, after school he works for a construction firm, where he finds satisfaction and pride in his new-found competency.
It’s not a good story without conflict, and Binns creates a compelling tale about how David and his siblings negotiate making a new start in a foreign environment. As with most teenagers, David’s story revolves around his preoccupation with a beautiful girl and his testosterone-infused competition with another male student. I was engaged immediately and read the whole book in two sittings.
Pull is a realistic look at what teenagers in urban schools deal with on a daily basis and I recommend it for readers in high school and beyond. It’s gritty and has overt sexuality, so don’t be surprised or offended by its frank look at a boy’s view of the world. I think that Barbara Binns has done an excellent job writing in a male voice, and I would go out on a limb to say that Pull is similar to The Outsiders in its contemporary message.
As with most authors, it turns out that this isn’t Binns’s first novel; she has written others that have yet to be published. I look forward to reading them.