“Really good book to read. It has some vary sad scenes and a really good story line.
“The story begins in the 1980's in Virginia, when an 8 year old boy (Clifton Carlson) sees two white police officers beat his father to death when they stop him in a routine traffic stop. Clifton's father is black and his mother is white. Clifton is a "gray baby" and endures all the prejudices that a mixed marriage brings upon a child in the 80's of a mixed marriage. Clifton struggles to find his identity as the story speeds forward from 8 years old to the age of 16. He becomes friends with an elderly white man, Swamper. They become friends as they try to uncover an odd mystery. Clifton will learn valuable lessons as he matures into manhood, and Swamper, who has always been set in his ways, will realize you are never too old to change.”Ann D wrote this review Tuesday, November 23, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“A second book by Scott Loring Sanders, Gray Baby is a fantastic look into biracial relations, and how they affect one boy's life.
It's a heartfelt tale that I really enjoyed, and it was a good follow up to The Hanging Woods. While not as intense as his previous book, Gray Baby stands on its own and is a fantastic read.
“At six, Clifton watched as two white police officers beat his black father to death. The official report called it an accident. But Clifton and his mother, who was also there, know the truth. Ten years later Clifton's life has been shaped by that horrible event. He's a social outcast, his mother has sunk deep into alcoholism, and the only connection has with a living thing is with the dog next door whose life is as bad as Clifton's. But then Clifton's principal comes up with the idea to have all the students release balloons with notes attached. It's meant to build school spirit, but it also gives Clifton an idea. What if, somehow, he was able to reach someone somewhere far away, and actually make a connection? Maybe even have a friend. So instead of balloons he uses bottles, and sets them afloat with notes inside down the New River. Amazingly, Clifton actually does here from someone. His name is Swamper, he's got to be at least 70, and he lives in a shack on the river, meaking out a living selling fish. Swamper and Clifton strike up a friendship and it looks like Clifton may be okay after all. But then the kidnapping of a young girl that Clifton witnesses brings back all of his old demons. How can he go to the police after what they did to his father? And his mother, she's useless. So he turns to Swamper, and in the end, discovers truths about his family, his life, and himself, that he never would have imagined”Ms. Poole wrote this review Tuesday, February 16, 2010. ( reply | permalink ) Was this review helpful? Yes | No
“ Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com
About ten years ago, Clifton Carlson watched as his father was beaten to death by a police officer. The attack was provoked by the fact that Clifton's black father was driving in a car with his white wife. Today's label for the situation would be DWB - driving while black.
Now in high school, Clifton doesn't think of himself as black or white. He is simply surviving, most of the time on his own since his mother has been lost in depression since the death of her husband. She spends her nights working at a dead-end job and her days lost in alcohol and cigarette smoke.
A balloon-release activity at Clifton's high school inspires him to try his own experiment. He writes short notes and sets them adrift in a nearby river in his mother's discarded wine bottles. Just making contact with someone far away from his own messed up world gives Clifton the courage to continue.
One day a letter arrives from a stranger who calls himself Swamper and Clifton is amazed. When he discovers the stranger lives within walking distance from the release point he used for his message-carrying bottles, he is at first disappointed but still interested in meeting the man.
Swamper lives alone in the woods. He spends his time catching catfish and selling them to a fishmonger who motors by each day to purchase his catch. Clifton is immediately fascinated by Swamper's lifestyle and falls into helping him as he casts his lines. He doesn't even question much when he learns that Swamper already knows about his father's tragic death. It just feels good to be with someone so sure of his place and so willing to spend time with a young teen.
Scott Loring Sanders explores the issue of racial prejudice in GRAY BABY. He presents the all too common white against black crime and relates the aftermath it creates for survivors. The plot could have gotten bogged down by the racial issue, but Sanders introduces several other situations that focus readers on the fact that bitterness as a result of crime and tragedy is not always black and white. Throughout the novel, Clifton struggles with his place in life, but a combination of determination and the encouragement of an old man help him find a way to carry on.