These are the teenaged things of 1985: roller-skates, triple-scoops, first-jobs, mixed-tapes, boom-boxes, braces, Pall Malls, high-fives, dibs, dag, sheeeeeit, Gummy-Bears, Heath bars, breast-touching, friends with cars, the “new” Coca-Cola and secret shakes. Whitehead describes stuff so well that you actually start missing the 80’s. This novel fits somewhere between John Updike’s “A&P” and Sherman Alexie’s Flight: it’s nostalgic and simple, and in the same breath, it lays out a whole history of racial conflict and oppression. Kids mimic the world’s biggest problems pretty well. Reggie and Benji spend their summers at Sag Harbor: between Southampton and East Hampton. A world where (almost) everyone is on vacation—liberated from something. They take lessons in transforming from city-kids to men, and more specifically from black kids to black men. Benji notices the subtle changes in his friends: none of them really varies much from year to year, but they all get a little closer to becoming themselves. Whitehead makes you want to want to find the nearest hand-dipped milkshake, but he also schools you in the seemingly endless cycle of oblivion that people have for the folks living just down the road.