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The Bookie's Son

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Posted June 30, 2012

    Ricky Davis is just your average Jewish American boy. At twelve,

    Ricky Davis is just your average Jewish American boy. At twelve, he lives in the Bronx with his mother and father and maternal grandmother. His Bar Mitzvah is coming up. It's important; he's about to become a man. His life is just like every other average American boy's life. Except.

    Except that his father is a bookie who's in Dutch with a loan shark. Except the loan shark has two goons with muscles, guns and real bad attitudes. Except the loan shark is in love with Ricky's mom. Except the loan shark is a repugnant slug who will do anything--and expects anything--for the repayment of this debt.

    So Ricky takes bets for his father, who's gone on the lam, trying his best to keep his whacky grandma from answering the phone. Through Ricky's eyes, author Goldstein introduces a wild, wonderful and reprehensible cast of characters, most of whom no boy should ever know, and leads us through the summer that Ricky Davis became a man.

    Goldstein's writing is nothing short of lyrical. With genuine voice and the rhythmic cadence of dialogue, he has captured this family, this place, with heartbreaking honesty. Sometimes hysterical, sometimes gripping, occasionally horrible, The Bookie's Son is an unforgettable glimpse at a family that's just like everybody else--except.

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  • Posted May 22, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A 100% Satisfying Read¿¿Two Thumbs Enthusiastically Up!

    I was charmed by this book before opening it. First, the title. The Bookie’s Son. Titillating and a bit shocking. Who has a bookie for a dad? I must have been fated to read this book because the couple on the cover look quite a bit like my parents in the early 1960s. I was positively inclined toward it immediately. The book delivers on its promise.

    The story unfolds as twelve-year-old Ricky Davis comes home, goes into his parents’ bedroom and begins taking bets for his father’s bookmaking business. His whacky grandmother wanders around, with and without her teeth and bowl of Jell-O.

    The scene was so bizarre that I thought, This is going to be an hysterically funny family drama, sort of like Leave It to Beaver, but with betting on the ponies on the side. Not quite.

    Very soon, the forces behind the gambling enterprise appear. Mafioso-like gangsters run betting. In this case, it’s the Jewish Mafia. Thugs as scary as you’ll encounter in literature show up. Ricky’s dad is in big trouble. The author leads the reader by the hand as the family struggles to save itself. Goldstein’s writing is so good, it’s like being with this incredibly disturbed, dysfunctional group of people. The Davis family would drive phalanxes of marriage and family counselors to their knees.

    Yet they love each other. These people care about each other and are bonded. I loved this book. I’m not going to add more about the plot, because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone.

    Mr. Goldstein’s writing is marvelous. He delivers very disturbing, terrifying material very well, as well as the funniest scenes you’ll ever read. I sat in my family room with my dogs staring at me because I was laughing so hard. Goldstein’s story and characters show great emotional depth and range. His weird and very empathetic characters are developed with perfectly paced and very well written prose. The author packs his work with great imagination and verve. Highly recommended!

    I noted “Two Thumbs Enthusiastically Up!” in this review’s title. I have a new practice. If I receive a book to review and I really like it, I pass it on to my husband. He is a very bright, well-educated, and articulate man. (Of course he is, I married him.) He represents the market for the books I accept for review. He loved this book. Listening to him laughing, practically rolling off the sofa, at the same scenes I did was delightful. (This is about to become a 3 thumbs-up review. Our daughter is reading the book and likes it as much as we did.)

    Mr. Goldstein, roll out your next work. We’re ready.

    [I received a complementary copy to read and review.]

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