“A Summer in Harlem” is a self-published novel from 2013 by Brendan Whitt, available on Amazon. Set in the summer of 1948, the novel tells the journey of Thad Thomas, a bright Alabama teen who visits his aunt and cousins in Harlem. Thad is captivated by the stories of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1930s, but the neighborhood he encounters is far different than what he had expected.
Thad’s cousin Willie represents the urban decay that has engulfed Harlem, and the enduring friendship between these two very different characters — one naive and enthusiastic, the other street-mart and jaded — suggests that while Harlem may not be able to regain its former glory, it can still serve as a beacon of inspiration.
Whitt maintains a consistently fast pace in his narrative, and all of his characters are memorable. Like many self-published authors, he could use a good editor, but his story-telling ability is strong enough to overcome his deficiencies.