‘Reappearance of Sam Webber’ Is Vivid Story Set in Baltimore

by Lisa McChristian
The Re-Appearance of Sam Webber

by Jonathan Scott Fuqua
Baltimore, MD: Bancroft Press, 1999
Hardback, 240 pages, $23.95

     To SOME outsiders, Baltimore has garnered a reputation for being a dark and dangerous place. But to those who live here, it is a tight-knit community where good people by far outnumber the bad. Jonathon Scott Fuqua captures both visions of Baltimore in his first novel, The Reappearance of Sam Webber.
      The story follows a year in the life of a white 11-year-old boy named Sam Webber. Sam’s life begins a whirlwind transformation when his father disappears without a trace. Short on funds, he and his mother are forced to leave their beautiful middle-class neighborhood for a rough and dirty area in downtown Baltimore.
     Sam must start at a new school full of bullies and pregnant teens, where his small size makes him a target and his good grades make him an outcast. Torn apart not only with his grief and insecurities but also his mother’s, Sam has nowhere to turn--until he meets Greely, an elderly black janitor.
      Greely and Sam form a father-son relationship where Greely needs Sam as much as Sam needs him. They toss a football in the park and eat lunch together in the cafeteria. Greely tells Sam moving tales from World War II and the Civil Rights movement. Through this relationship Sam gains understanding about racism and friendship and realizes there is more than one kind of family.
     Everything is tested when Greely confesses a secret from his past that forces Sam to come to terms with the disappearance of his father.
      i>The Reappearance of Sam Webber is a vivid novel that makes you feel like you know Sam, and that you’ve seen him running down the streets of the city.
     Fuqua’s descriptions of Baltimore--from the little greasy spoon diners struggling to stay in business to the rambling rowhouses--are as dead-on as his portrait of an abandoned child. The reader can’t help but cheer Sam on as he struggles with the decision to have fun and enjoy life without his father.
      Not a difficult read, this novel would work great on a bus ride around downtown or at home on a lazy weekend. It would be perfect for single parents, teachers, teens growing up in urban areas, and anyone who enjoys an uplifting story about acceptance.
      A Writer-In-Residence at Carver Institute, Fuqua teaches classes in fiction writing, literature, and art in Baltimore and has written numerous plays, stories, and articles, including “Coffee and Comets at the Starlight Diner” for the Maryland Science Center. He has also written and illustrated the children's book B&O: America’s Railroad.
     Fuqua lives in Baltimore with his wife and daughter.

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This story was published on June 30, 1999.