Jack Pszcynack lives as a young adolescent in the house of his parents, who are still surprisingly married. Jack’s older brother, Joey, goes out of his way to torment and terrorize Jack. The Pszcynacks live in the town of Pennsauken, New Jersey. Jack’s parents, Barbara and Joe Sr., are all about maintaining appearances, especially when it comes to their neighbors. However, recent developments on Browning Road have upset the delicate balance in the neighborhood. A neighbor has decided to sell his house, and a barely concealed intolerance begins to reveal itself as no one wants the new owners to be of a different race. Jack is all too familiar with his family’s racism, but the prospect of African-Americans moving in has the Pszcynacks threatening to uproot the family.
Browning Road is a poignant coming-of-age drama revolving around the world of Jack Pszcynack. Jack is an outgoing young man, yet due to his family’s dysfunction, he adopts more of the traits of a disaffected youth. The affecting drama of the story involves verbal sparring with his stubborn mother or the occasional physical confrontation with his raging brother. Jack’s compelling story is that of survival in a steadily unstable household. The theme of intolerance is overarching throughout the narrative, as most of Jack’s family and neighbors spew ignorant epithets or engage in “White Flight” to avoid living in a heavily African American area. Jack’s existence possesses more of a “go along to get along” vibe. Browning Road is a story that will make the reader uncomfortable in some of its language, but it reverberates with its authenticity. Author Jeff Marlowe has written an excellent story with broad appeal — deft, balanced, and resonant.