“Was life so different in 1964, 1985, 2013? This life-changing, time-traveling book within a book that explores the struggle of being a Black 14 year old in Mississippi. Laymon highlights the themes that matter most (family, love, the written word) and the racism that permeates the South - it never really goes away as the years go on, it just takes on different forms in its various cycles. This book is beautiful, thought provoking, and absolutely necessary.”
Christy, Avid Bookshop
Long Division contains two interwoven stories. In the first, it's 2013: after an on-stage meltdown during a nationally televised quiz contest, fourteen-year-old Citoyen "City" Coldson becomes an overnight YouTube celebrity. The next day, he's sent to stay with his grandmother in the small coastal community of Melahatchie, where a young girl named Baize Shephard has recently disappeared.
Before leaving, City is given a strange book without an author called Long Division. He learns that one of the book's main characters is also named City Coldson—but Long Division is set in 1985. This 1985 City, along with his friend and love-object, Shalaya Crump, discovers a way to travel into the future and steals a laptop and cell phone from an orphaned teenage rapper called . . . Baize Shephard. They ultimately take these with them all the way back to 1964, to help another time-traveler they meet protect his family from the Klan.
City's two stories ultimately converge in the mysterious work shed behind his grandmother's, where he discovers the key to Baize's disappearance.