In the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life, we meet Imajin (his friends and family call him Maji), a sixteen-year-old African-American boy from the Bronx who, during one fateful summer, finds his world crumbling down around him. During his last class of the school year, he feels overwhelmed by the news of a young Internet celebrity taking his life in Brooklyn and another of a pregnant black woman held at gunpoint by cops. This is the same day that his favorite teacher and role model announces that he’s leaving the school before Maji’s senior year. Couple this with him internally dealing with the destruction of his family — his mother suffering from depression and his father slowly pulling away from his home — and Maji decides to run.
Run from everything.
Run from everyone.
Building a small raft out of materials from his neighborhood, and with nothing but the Moby Dick book he stole from his teacher and a few printed maps, Maji sets sail down the Hudson River one night and out to the open sea hoping to find a miracle that would make his life special and worthwhile.
the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life is part coming-of-age story, part social commentary piece, part reimagining of a common classic — all aimed at a Young Adult audience. It’s bold and surreal, with elements of magical realism, but maintains a firm grasp on the issues we are facing in the here and now.
Green Writers Press senior editor Rose Alexandre-Leach notes, “The book combines everything that the current contemporary writers are creating in the realm of exposing young readers to race relations in America through amazing storytelling and characters with the grandeur and imagination of classical literature.”
Praise & Reviews for the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life
“A Black high school junior tries to escape the sea of chaos around him by finding a miracle in the ocean. . . . The juxtaposition of beauty and horror takes readers on an unpredictable ride full of twists and turns. An imaginative look at teen mental health.” —KIRKUS
A Black high school junior tries to escape the sea of chaos around him by finding a miracle in the ocean.
Maji is a young man growing up in the Melville Projects in the Bronx. He experiences frequent nightmares, and his synesthesia allows him to pick up on people’s emotional tenor in the form of colors. He tries to manage his emotions by carefully curating his sensory inputs. Maji’s biggest influences are a vlogger called Consciousness 2.0 and his English teacher, Mr. DaCosta. C2.0, as fans call him, seems to have everything Maji wants. Mr. DaCosta has been trying to keep Maji in school and consistently checks in on him. Maji bonded with Mr. DaCosta through a personalized reading challenge, which led to thought-provoking conversations about Moby Dick. Maji’s fragile hold on his emotions starts to slip as social justice protests take place in his neighborhood, his parents’ marriage disintegrates, Mr. DaCosta announces he won’t be returning the following school year, and C2.0 seems to be closing his channel. Everything in Maji’s world revolves around not being seen as weak, and he decides to head out to the Atlantic: “Maji feels the call. The call of a miracle.” Moby Dick is a major focus: from character studies of Ahab and Ishmael to Maji’s insistence on keeping a copy of the book close. The juxtaposition of beauty and horror takes readers on an unpredictable ride full of twists and turns.
An imaginative look at teen mental health. (Fiction. 14-18)
“In Alcy Leyva’s novel the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life, sixteen-year-old Maji’s New York world is falling apart, and he sets out to sea in search of a miracle. The book is miraculous in its own right, featuring lyrical prose and a kind of dreamlike logic that make Maji’s journey a memorable one.” —Foreword Reviews / Starred Review
“In Alcy Leyva’s novel the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life, sixteen-year-old Maji’s New York world is falling apart, and he sets out to sea in search of a miracle. The book is miraculous in its own right, featuring lyrical prose and a kind of dreamlike logic that make Maji’s journey a memorable one.
The struggles Maji faces hit every aspect of his life in the Bronx. His parents’ relationship seems to be in jeopardy, and his own bond with his police officer father has grown strained without a clear reason. Maji and his peers are well aware of the violence that young Black Americans face, with videos of police brutality and killings being a regular part of their lives. As he loses some of the few reliable figures in his life and neither school nor home feels secure any longer, Maji turns to his remaining source of inspiration—Moby Dick, which he has yet to finish. He builds a raft and heads toward the Atlantic, looking for something meaningful.
That ocean voyage draws inspiration from, and sometimes parallels, Maji’s chosen text, with the search for his own metaphorical white whale incorporating elements of other classic tales of heroes on a quest. At points, Maji finds “just more of his life back home: threats upon his life, fighting for survival; the lifeless eyes of predators on his black skin.” His resourcefulness and his limited resources are both challenged in myriad ways, and the book captures his shifting
mental state well as the line between reality and escapism blurs and his decisions invite ever more danger.
the silent, subtle, ever-present perils of life is both an engrossing adventure story and a meditation on the struggles of coming of age in a turbulent time.”
—Jeff Fleischer, Foreword Reviews / Starred Review
About the Author
Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born multi-genre writer whose first two books in the Shades of Hell series, And Then There Were Crows and And Then There Were Dragons, were published by Black Spot Books. His short stories have appeared in the award-winning anthologies A Midnight Clear and Dead of Winter. He currently lives and teaches in New York City.
About the Cover Artist
Kehinde Wiley (born February 28, 1977) is an African-American portrait painter based in New York City, who is known for his highly naturalistic paintings of Black people, frequently referencing the work of Old Master paintings. He was commissioned in 2017 to paint a portrait of former President Barack Obama for the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, which has portraits of all previous American presidents. The Columbus Museum of Art, which hosted an exhibition of his work in 2007, describes his work as follows: “Wiley has gained recent acclaim for his heroic portraits which address the image and status of young African-American men in contemporary culture.” Wiley was included in Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of 2018.
Artwork Credit: Kehinde Wiley, The Herring Net (Zakary Antoine and Samedy Pierre Louisson), 2017. © Kehinde Wiley. Courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.
Price: $17.95 (CA $23.95)
Page Count: 210 pages
Trim Size: 5.5 x 8.25
Publication Date: October 19, 2023
Distributor: IPG / Chicago
Rights sold: All rights available.
Rights & Publicity contact: Dede Cummings
Distributor: IPG; also available through Follett/Baker & Taylor, Ingram, and other wholesalers.
Individuals can pre-order directly from Bookshop.org, or contact your local, independent bookstore.
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