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Set in the African-American community of Evansville, Ind., in the 1970s, Bennett's (The Colored Garden) moral tale is brought back from the brink of didacticism by compelling main characters. After accidentally shooting and killing Lawrence, his older brother, teenager Terrell Matheus blames the killing on three white boys in a pickup truck. In the wake of Lawrence's death, Terrell's parents sink into depression, his community flashes with racial unrest and Terrell endures a waking nightmare of guilt. After Lawrence's funeral, Terrell receives a friendly overture from Tamara Groves, an older girl who Lawrence was pursuing and who thinks her boyfriend, the neighborhood thug, may have killed Lawrence. Bonded by their guilt, Terrell and Tamara become wary allies, even after Terrell's lie is exposed, causing even more agony for Terrell's family and the community. What follows is an uneasy road to redemption for Terrell, and a period of transformation for Tamara. Though the supporting cast feels a little flat, Terrell and Tamara are wonderful characters whose complexity and self-determination demonstrate Bennett's exciting if still developing talent. (July)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.