I’ve been anxiously awaiting another title from Chris Terry since I first read his debut novel Zero Fade a while back and Black Card has not disappointed. I found myself laughing out loud more than once, and the way the chapters were structured really kept me engaged. It almost felt mysterious, like our own pasts can seem when we try to figure out what role we played in our history. While not a children’s book by any stretch, it does feel like its own coming of age story. Humans tend to bloom on their own timeline, especially those who carry imaginary friends into their twenties and belong to a subculture that celebrates never growing up.
That’s right, the main character is punk, so if you’re reading this, odds are you’ll relate to the narrator. At its core, Black Card is about race in this country and its unwritten rulebook we are all pressured to conform to. This is the story of one punk’s struggle to create himself in a world that seems hell-bent on drawing its own conclusions.
What gives Terry a vantage point of interest is his ability to see an object from different sides of America’s ever-present invisible wall and use this perspective to show us just how fragile the concept of identity is while reminding us how very real its effects can be for our physical health, our mental health, and our very freedom. From getting too drunk before you play, to dealing with people’s preconceptions, the backdrops he creates feel familiar without being cliché, making for a novel based in the punk rock stratosphere without any cringe-worthy moments. I’m already excited to see what’s next. Definitely recommended. –Rene Navarro (Catapult, catapult.co)