Praise for Hoppergrass


"If Mark Twain had written a murder mystery set in an interracial reform school in Virginia, in the late 1960s, Hoppergrass would be it."--William Gibson, author of Neuromancer and Pattern Recognition 


"..... Follwing a boy named bowser through his days .... quickly becomes an eye-opening and, at times, entertaining journey.  Bowser's voice rings true as a troubled boy looking for a change of luck and scenery"--USA Today


Brown demonstrates a masterful hand behind the informal tale-telling... Yet this isn't simply an inward-looking tale, as there is plenty of action and suspense in Bowser's detective work..

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, John's Hopkins University Press



"Fifteen-year-old Bowser is in trouble again. First it was the county jail, then the Diagnostic Center, and now it’s the Hill—an institution for juvenile delinquents. As tends to happen in barracks, despite the deadening routines, mighty bonds are formed, in this case between characters adorned with colorful nicknames like Babybird and Snicklesnort. But most surprising is Bowser’s friendship with Nose, a scrappy black kid who outwardly pretends to be Bowser’s archrival. The crossing of racial lines is one of Brown’s recurrent themes, and though his light touch is appreciated, it often feels as if the plot would unfurl the same way in 2009 as it does in 1969. Still, the book is quite readable; especially well handled is Bowser’s maybe/maybe-not schizophrenia.The story really takes off in the second half, following the suspicious death of one of Bowser’s buddies, when the plot makes a surprisingly dark turn—pornography and prostitution are involved. Though many of the adult characters are unrealistic, they are deliciously evil and readers will find them deserving of the revenge heading their way. Grades 7-10. --Daniel Kraus

Booklist -- the review journal of the National Library Association

 "Smoking, huffing, fighting, racism, first kisses, sex, death and classic literature come together in Chris Carlton Brown’s first young-adult novel, “Hoppergrass.”

-- Valley Haggard, Style Weekly

 "With themes that touch on racism, adolescence and psychiatry, "Hoppergrass" isn't for the timid, but Brown writes with grace and creativity."

-- Jay Strafford

Richmond Times Dispatch



Here are some reader reviews posted on Amazon:


5.0 out of 5 stars

Best of Year, May 5, 2009

By Cassie H. Wilson (Texas) - See all my reviews


I cannot understand the previous viewers of this book; it is a fine, fine piece of writing, comparable to many of the greats. The characters are extremely fine, each one (except for some of the adults) commanding our caring and understanding but never twitching a muscle or uttering a word to beg for sympathy. These are the boys who fall through the cracks while so much trash is left.

Brown is a talented story spinner and keeps interest high while using some high style writing. This book belongs in the best of lock-up literature, in the vein of "Cool Hand Luke," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," or "Holes" or any of the work of Chris Crutcher.

It is better for older teens or adults because of violence and language.


  5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible tale for adults and teens, May 2, 2009
By L. Lee "mostly classics" (Tenafly, NJ USA) - See all my reviews
I was really impressed with this first novel by Chris Brown. The topic is not easy, troubled teens in a correctional school. The voices are touching, especially the main character Bowser's perception of "normal" and how he feels he can't be that, ever. His gradual acceptance of who he is and his courage and skill in unraveling a mystery is beautifully crafted. I'd recommend it for teens, but would strongly suggest that the parent read it also. It's a quick read, really draws you in. Some of the subject matter is adult, and warrants discussion with your teen.