A Kid From Southie

John %E2%80%9CRed%E2%80%9D Shea and Michael Harmon. WestSide, $16.95 (240p) ISBN 978-1-934813-53-9
Desperation drives this brutal, unflinching coming-of-age story, inspired by adult author Shea’s (Rat Bastards) experiences as a teenage boxer in South Boston and fleshed out in collaboration with Harmon (Brutal). Seventeen-year-old Aiden wrestles with aggression. His father, a violent alcoholic, abandoned him; his mother bounces from one waitress job to another, where she makes barely enough to pay rent; and his neighborhood is as bleak as his prospects. All Aiden has going for him is boxing and his love for Angelique, though her father, a Cuban refugee, disapproves of their relationship. When his best friend Tommy introduces him to well-connected Liam, it turns into a job offer Aiden can’t refuse or escape. Now, working for the mob as an enforcer, Aiden is caught up in a life that makes him question what kind of person he really is. Readers should empathize with Aiden as he attempts to justify the moral compromises he has made and maintain his dignity. Despite the book’s hard truths and painful passages, Shea and Harmon’s novel has a cautiously optimistic tone, leading to a somewhat pat, yet satisfying conclusion. Ages 14–up. (May)
Reviewed on: 06/13/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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