Open Wounds

Joseph Lunievicz. WestSide (www.westside-books.com), $16.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-934813-51-5
Lunievicz's impressive debut is a dark, often brutal story, balancing some of the meanest villains in recent memory with a beautifully portrayed historical New York and a movie-obsessed boy determined to overcome the hand life has dealt him. In late-1930s New York City, Cid has been physically abused by both his grandmother and his father, the latter blaming him for his mother's death in childbirth. His only bright spots are seeing movies with his grandmother and playing with some local kids (while avoiding neighborhood bullies). When his father vanishes and his grandmother kills herself in front of him, Cid is sent to an orphanage and later adopted by his long-lost cousin, crippled veteran Lefty, who helps foster his interests in acting and fencing. As Cid gains confidence, he is drawn back into the tough gang crowd while he reconnects with friends and bullies from his younger years. Lunievicz paints a grim picture of Depression-era New York: anti-Semitism, violence, and poverty (an early eviction scene stands out) dominate the storytelling, yet bright spots like Cid's love of cinema are painted with equal brilliance and realism. Ages 14–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011
Release date: 05/01/2011
Genre: Children's
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