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Strivers Row by Kevin Baker
Strivers Row is the third book of Kevin Baker's trilogy of novels about New York City. It's 1943 and the two protagonists are Malcolm Little (who would become Malcolm X), who is a young man and petty criminal who has come to Harlem from Michigan, and the other is the fictional Reverend Jonah Dove, son of a famous preacher who feels no calling to the pulpit himself. Jonah's skin is light enough because of his mixed race ancestry to pass for white, and he's full of inner turmoil while contemplating leaving his family and crossing over to the white world. While he and his wife are being harassed by soldiers, they're rescued by Malcolm Little. Strivers Row re-creates Harlem in the 1940s and portrays these two men in search of their identities and roles in life against the backdrop of racism that defines their world. It's received positive reviews with BookPage saying, "As both a historical treatise and an empathetic portrait of a pivotal black figure in American history, Baker's concluding volume in his masterful trilogy succeeds on every level."