Tuesday, September 4, 2012
Published May 2012 by (sixoneseven) books
Source: the author and TLC Book Tours in exchange for this review
In the Bronx of 1960, life is tough for 12-year-old Ricky Davis. He can't remember his Hebrew lessons with his Bar Mitzvah bearing down on him, his mother is so unhappy that she is rarely at home, and his father is forever chasing a dream that never seems to come true. Now his latest dream gone bust has gotten him into serious trouble with a local mobster who wants his money...now.
While his father is at working as a cutter in the garment district and his mother as a secretary to a big-time promoter, Ricky is left in charge of his father's bookie business. Ricky would love to be out playing with the other kids but if he leaves the apartment, his crazy grandmother is liable to take a bet, something that is bound to cause problems for Ricky. Harry Davis is a man with a mean temper and living on the edge is making him even worse. Ricky spends much of his free time trying to figure out ways to get his father out of trouble. If only they can pay off their debt to Nathan Gluckman, Ricky hopes things will finally be better and his mother can finally be happy with the way her life has turned out. A bake sale, an attempt to convince his "girlfriend" to dance for the neighbor's for money, even an attempt to place a bet on a fixed race - Ricky is as busy trying to make a quick buck as his dad.
In his debut novel, Goldstein has done an incredible job of making the Bronx come alive, surrounding Ricky with a neighborhood full of real characters, a family of complete nuts (his grandmother is an extortionist, his mother concocts a plan to steal from Elizabeth Taylor), and descriptions of life on the Davis' street that gave me the feeling of a time and place that no longer exists. Despite all of their flaws, family and friends demonstrate loyalty and love that endear them to the reader. Goldstein manages, for the most part, to avoid the pitfalls of many first-time authors (repetition, an excess of adjectives, too many story lines), crafting a story based on his own real-life experiences that is clean and believable.
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me in this tour. For other thoughts on this book, check out the full tour.
Posted by Lisa at 6:00 AM