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All Souls: A Family Story from Southie

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 42 review with 5 star rating   See All Ratings
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  • Posted March 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A MUST READ! GREAT FOR BOOK CLUBS!

    Thank you Michael Patrick MacDonald for having the strength to write this book. I can't believe you lived to tell this story. You are truly an inspiration. This is an awesome piece of American History and I urge everyone to read this powerful book.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2013

    All Souls, a memoir written by Michael Patrick MacDonald functio

    All Souls, a memoir written by Michael Patrick MacDonald functions rather effectively in its role as a memoir. MacDonald brings the reader along the turbulent path of his life as a child growing up in the crime ridden, drug riddled neighborhood of South Boston. We are privy to his thoughts and feelings as he witnesses and experiences horrendous tragedies and we witness his morality blossoming through each triumph and tribulation. Self-discovery, drama, and dialogue are all present in his writing, all three of which add legitimacy and depth to his memoir.
    The volatile nature of his environment as it experienced racial tensions due to forced busing and desegregation provided plenty of opportunity for self-discovery for MacDonald. At first he found himself being dragged along with the popular opinion and participating in the riots and pickets because it was something to do and it was something that his neighbors, friends and family were a part of as well. Eventually, though, he started to question why he was there and whether or not the majority ruling of South Boston was a justified one. This reflection led MacDonald to find his own moral compass and steer clear of the alluring but destructive South Boston lifestyle of drugs and violence.
    Have no fear, readers; you will not be bored while reading this memoir thanks to the endless drama that permeates the story. Drugs, death, race riots, and suicide all compile in this relatively short work in a way that leaves a Southie outsider somewhat dazed and confused. Add to that the South Boston code of silence and you have perpetrators who seem to always get away with their illegal schemes. MacDonald himself experiences much of this drama during his youth as his family members pass away and he struggles to separate himself from the devastating effects of his home. The drama, while all completely true, keeps the reader engaged and turning the page, wondering what will happen next. Granted, there is a spoiler alert built in to the reader’s experience due to the fact that some of these events were broadcasted on national television. Nonetheless, the shocking twists left me emotionally affected at the critical points in the memoir.
    Dialogue is the last major part of a memoir that we find in All Souls. MacDonald converses with his family members, his neighbors, and others, all of which provide insight to the lingo of South Boston. The dialect is almost audible as the book is read and the authenticity of what is said, and more importantly how it is said, gives the memoir a character that is clearly reminiscent is the South Boston style. Through the f-bombs and racial slurs, MacDonald still maintains an eloquent and comprehensible voice, making him a sort of tour guide as strangers to South Boston get a glimpse inside of its everyday business.
    Reading this memoir has had an effect on my writing, and not just an effect on my memoir writing skills. As MacDonald writes his story, he incorporates the experiences of neighbors and family members. By doing so, he avoids the flat, tasteless tale that borders on egocentrism. Furthermore, the reader better understands how everybody in South Boston was involved in one another’s lives, and how they shared in their suffering. The events that MacDonald includes in his writing are extremely significant to his own development of character and morality. Each occurrence shapes him as a person as he finds himself beyond the South Boston expectations. His memoir has shown me that our growth sometimes comes through the happenings of those around us, and that those events are just as noteworthy. Finally, MacDonald proves that genuine voice, despite vulgarity and political incorrectness, is essential to providing an authentic glimpse into one’s life. It may not be pleasant or particularly easy to read, but if done properly creates a world for the reader that would probably not have access to otherwise. I do think that this book should be offered again as a memoir option for this class. It kept me highly engaged as I read through it (in a little over a week), and I was satisfied yet somewhat haunted at the end of it. I would give All Souls a 4.5 out of 5 rating.

    3 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 11, 2008

    Outrageous

    I have never reviewed a book before but I had to share this one with everyone. I read alot of true stories, this one is the best. The way it is written, it really holds your attention. I'm not just saying this, it truly is hard to put down.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 19, 2005

    Such a touching book

    I saw both sides of the culture clashes when I was growing up in the 1970's. I went to both a lower class neighborhood school, and an upper class private Catholic school. I am the same age as Michael McDonald's siblings, the twins, Mary and Joe, born in 1958. I related so much to many parts of this book, and thought it was so wonderful that I have bought a copy of it although had originally checked it out from the library. I would recommend this to anyone in social work, teaching, suicide survivors, recovering addicts and alcoholics, and anyone wanting to relate to family and relationship issues in any way. It's just a great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2005

    A+ work!

    Hands down one of the best memoirs I have read in years. Truely compelling. At times I felt so bad for his family. It is such a shame that this still goes on in America. But this is a good eye opener for some.A must read for all fans of Irish-American history. I wish the author all the luck in the world.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2005

    All Souls

    Thank you Michael MacDonald for having the courage to piece together so many painful memories in order to create All Souls. No book has ever touched me like this. You are a true inspiration to all oppressed people looking for hope. All Souls has helped me in my healing/recovery and given me insight into the place where my grandparents emmigrated to, South Boston. Thank you again.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2014

    Highly recommended.  Gripping!!  Excellent Writing!!!

    Highly recommended.  Gripping!!  Excellent Writing!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2008

    Great book..

    This book was great. growing up in a suburb of boston i could relate to the 1970's political issues and also growing up in that same time-frame. very sad at times, but definately a good read..

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 9, 2007

    A reviewer

    I can't believe that these kids made it out of Southie! The author took a seeminly hopeless existance and added the sense of pride he felt from growing up there so that the reader felt both emotions. God Bless them!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2005

    A MUST READ

    This was a truly compelling story. This should be a must read for all high school students to realize the dangers that lie out there and how they may affect all of our lives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 11, 2004

    An amazing story

    I loved this book so much I read it twice, and I NEVER read books twice. It's amazing that a world the author created actually existed. This book is by far one of my most famous books of all time.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 19, 2004

    AWESOME CHOICE FOR YOUR BOOK CLUB

    We read this book for our most recent book club discussion. Everyone loved it! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2003

    THANK YOU MICHAEL PATRICK MACDONALD

    Thank you to Michael Patrick MacDonald for having the strength to write this book. You are truly an inspiration. This is an awesome piece of American History and I urge everyone to read this powerful book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2002

    Brutal honesty

    MacDonald's book is written with the brutal honesty of someone who has been in the eye of the storm. He took on a subject that is often a dirty word - Class.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2002

    A great story!

    I thought this book was absouletly amazing! The author did an excellent job writting it while going through an emotional rollercoaster!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 26, 2002

    Fighting Irish

    An amazing tale of courage, patience, luck, loyalty and family. The author adds more depth to the phrase Fighting Irish. Having read Angela's Ashes and 44 Dublin made me; I assumed that this would be a re-write of those great books. I was so very mistaken! Michael Patrick MacDonald's writing cuts clear to the bone. His story and survival are amazing. If you have never heard about Southie you must read this. This is Southie.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2002

    Southie!

    After reading this book I could relate to it because I myself am from Boston and I know how it is to grow up in the economy. Michael is a great writter and had great detail in it also! Oh yeah And Michael Patrick Mac Donald Is Sexy!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2001

    Good Ol' Southie

    Growing up just outside Boston, you hear of the struggles in the urban neighborhoods of the city. Even with this knowledge I was unprepared to read of the trauma suffered by one family and the code of silence (fear) throughout the community that only served to perpetuate the drugs and violence that plagued the streets. I began reading the book on the bus on the way to work one morning and could not put it down. Despite a 10-hour work day, I finished the entire book just after midnight. A truly engrossing book. I live a mere five blocks from MacDonald's childhood street, and driving past it conjures vivid thoughts of life in the Old Colony projects.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 17, 2001

    VERY GOOD BOOK

    This book was full of triumph and drama. I loved this novel in and out, it never became boring. I hope Michael MacDonald would write another!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2001

    This book will both haunt and inspire you!

    I bought All Souls shortly after reading Angela's Ashes, expecting to read the U.S. version of Frank McCourt's saga, that of an Irish family living in poverty. But All Souls was a story even more compelling. MacDonald's story leaves nothing out - the victims of Southie's crime, drugs and violence are given names, faces, and families. The reader will be rivited to each and every story, hoping for every victim's eventual happy ending. But happy endings in Southie are few and far between - with the exception of the author's. Though his life was marred by tragedy, Michael Patrick MacDonald is a survivor whose experiences have made him the compassionate advocate that he has become. The book's conclusion is inspirational. MacDonald is a brave man to have written such a brutally honest book. This is a book you will not want to put down!

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