Having just read this book, I realise that it is possible to be a little over enthusiastic. So, I shall try to stand back far enough to give a proper critique.
The book is simple, yet complicated. It deals with the lives of four main characters, but focused on John - a teenage boy. The book discusses their journeys and histories, and how these come to impact one another, as well as how previous `sins' stay with.
Also, in these stories you learn about black segregation, racism, family pressures, as well as an examination of the black church (I say that as a white Englishman, the lines may be less obvious in the USA).
It can at times be difficult to follow, as the story jumps around a bit; but this is overcome with the beauty of his prose. It, even after many years, maintains a hard-edged electricity about it. This is true for both dialogue and the narrative. You can feel the rhythmic pulses in their speech, and the narrative, glides; painting wonderful imagery through use of metaphor. In some ways this is a collection of poems. A very beautifully written book and one I would recommend to everyone.