Black Buck is Mateo's debut novel and I was thoroughly impressed. This story line is peculiar and also very well written. It's entertaining but also touches on some very relevant issues in today's society. I am definitely looking forward to reading any subsequent novels that may come from this author.
Black Buck tells a tale of Darren Vendor, your typical twenty two year old guy that works at Starbucks and lives with his mom. Darren graduated as his high school's valedictorian but after graduating becomes complacent in life. His mom, like any other mom, has bigger goals for her son and vocalizes it every chance she gets. One day, Darren steps out on a limb to sell his regular customer, Rhett, a coffee that is different from his regular order. Rhett offers Darren an opportunity of a lifetime, to come work for him at his company, after this Darren's life is never the same. "Back in my day, when a white man gave you an opportunity, it came at a cost."
Once Darren goes to work for Sumwun he is transformed in to "Buck", a moniker given to him because he worked for Starbucks."I'll tell you what I do know, Darrone. Or rather, Buck. I'd call you Starbucks, but it's too long, so Buck will have to do. You don't mind do you, Buck?" Darren is the only black person that works at Sumwun and faces many racial challenges, but because of his mom he pushes through in hopes of being the best man that he can be. "Well, no matter how hard it gets, remember why you're there, Dar. To become somethin' and show the world what you're made of. To let your light shine and be all I know you can be."
The longer Buck works at Sumwun the more his life changes. The people around him don't even recognize who he's become. While reading I tried to decipher if it was Buck who was actually changing, or if his friends and family were just having a hard time adapting to his new lifestyle. Then something life-altering happens, Darren completely gives up on every one that has been in his corner and completely transforms in to Buck. "'Fuck the old Darren,' I announced to the empty room. 'I'm Buck.'"
As time progresses in the book, Buck realizes the error in his ways and tries to get back to being Darren. Something his mother told him resonates loud in his spirit. "It's the duty of every man and woman who has achieved some success in life to pass it on, because when we're gone, what matters most isn't what we were able to obtain but who we were able to help." And help is exactly what Buck did. Buck decides to help people of color become better salesman to help better themselves. He also doesn't want them to experience what he experienced his first week at Sumwun.
This book reads as funny and satirical, so the ending was not expected. Overall I was pleased with this author's writing style and exceptionally happy with this very different and original story line.