Go deep into the heart of 1980s Texan Creole culture in this vivid, visceral novel about a gifted boy who comes of age at the crossroads of privilege and poverty, life and death.
Meet Ti John, a young boy growing up in Houston in the 1980s, the decade of Reaganomics, disco music, and the candy of choice—red Now and Laters. Raised in a Black Creole family by a voodoo-practicing father and strict Catholic mother, he is blessed with a special gift: spiritual healing. On a regular basis, a deceased ancestor visits Ti John, announcing himself with the smell of smoke and serving as a spiritual guide.
But the community Ti John belongs to isn’t easy. It turned from white and middle class to black and poor after the oil bubble burst in the 1960s, and the flood of 1977 sealed its current fate as a ghetto. Ti John struggles to remain an ordinary kid, but even with a rodeo-star father he idolizes, an overprotective mother who forbids him to play with the neighborhood “hoodlums,” and the help of supernatural guides, nothing can shield Ti John from the rough side of inner-city life. He witnesses violence and death, gets his heart broken by girls, feels the anger of his own embittered father, struggles to live up to his mother’s middle-class aspirations—all while trying to become the man he’s expected to be. Will Ti John fall prey to the bad side of life—or will he recognize and hold on to the good?
Multilayered and multigenerational, this tremendous literary debut breathes new life into the coming-of-age novel. Red Now and Laters is a poignant and uniquely American story, as memorable and flavorful as the candy itself.