His Own Where covers several months in the life of Buddy Rivers, a student at Boys High School in Brooklyn who is at a point at which he realizes that he must assume complete responsibility for his decisions and choices. He has been living with his father in a house in the heart of the African American community of Bedford-Stuyvesant in the borough of Brooklyn, a house that they have been personally renovating so that it reflects their sense of who they are. Buddy’s mother has returned to the Caribbean, discouraged by her inability to order her life as she wishes. Buddy is devastated when his father is seriously injured in a traffic accident shortly before the action of the novel begins. The book is set in the mid-1960’s, a time when ideas of black pride and black power were capturing the minds and spirits of many African Americans. Buddy’s journey toward independent existence is an expression of a communal aspiration and is marked by the same difficulties that most black people had to confront.
The narrative action, revealed almost entirely from within Buddy’s mind and expressed as a series of thoughts and images as Buddy realizes them, is framed by a scene in a cemetery, a symbol of loss and isolation but also of spiritual sanctuary. As the book opens and closes, Buddy and Angela, a girl he meets in the hospital where his father is and where her mother works, are separated from the world and together with each other, a nascent “family” creating a space that is theirs alone, their “own place for loving” at the beginning of “a new day of the new life” they are attempting to build. The first chapter shifts back slightly in time to show Buddy and Angela on a kind of first date. Buddy leads Angela to his private place of refuge from the din of the streets, a reservoir in a wooded glen in the heart of the city. Buddy tells Angela about his father. There is another shift, back further in time, to describe Buddy meeting Angela’s mother while maintaining his nightly vigil at his father’s bedside. He sees Angela for the first time and is attracted to her...
(The entire section is 856 words.)