"Black and White" by Paul Volponi is about the friendship of two boys who their friends call "Black and White," because one boy is white and the other is black. Although race plays no part in their friendship, the community treats each boy differently after they are both involved in a crime spree, explains KirkusReviews.com.
Volponi begins "Black and White" by discussing the friendship of Marcus and Eddie, two boys who attend the same high school. The boys become close after playing together on the school's basketball team. After finding success during the basketball season, Marcus and Eddie decide to team up once again. This time, though, the boys decide to rob unsuspecting people in their neighborhood to get money to buy new shoes. After stealing Eddie's grandfather's gun, the boys successfully rob several people without getting caught. Things suddenly go wrong one night when Eddie accidentally pulls the trigger during a robbery and shoots a man.
The conclusion of the book focuses on how the community and the police respond to the crime and treat each boy differently. Eddie, a white boy who stole the gun and pulled the trigger, receives harsher treatment than Marcus, who is black.
The book is structured in a way that emphasizes the effects of race. Each chapter is viewed either from the perspective of Marcus or Eddie, which allows the reader to experience different versions of the story. The first half of the book is a stark contrast compared to the second half. Race is not an issue in the beginning, but by the end, it has a major impact on one of the boys' lives.