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The last time Izzy saw his mother’s trailer was through the rear window of a Dodge Aires driven by a social worker with the Florida Division of Children and Families. He was four years old. He spent the remainder of his childhood bouncing around the state foster care system. Always the outsider, introverted and awkward, he assumed he was exempt from things like friendship and love … until he met Scarlett McGhee.

Pharaoh Sinclair was born in a women’s correctional facility. The illegitimate child of an unknown father and a crackhead mother. He grew up on the sidewalks of the Azalea Arms housing project, where gunshots and police sirens were as commonplace as the stench of the neighboring landfill. Molded by hustlers and pushers, with the dope game in his DNA, the lone soft spot in his concrete heart was reserved for his baby sister, Symphony. But could he protect her from the same streets that raised them?

From the sugar-white sand dunes of Pensacola Beach to the murderous Arthur G. Dozier reform school, from strip clubs to emergency rooms, from trap houses to courthouses to prison cells, On the Shoulders of Giants chronicles the intersecting journeys of a foster kid and a project kid as they battle and stumble their way through adolescence into adulthood.

An exploration of race, part memoir, part coming-of-age, part thriller, part love story, this transcendent novel defies genre. A book within a book. More than a story, a living organism. A legacy. The only child of Ezra “Izzy” James.

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