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Smith's Hartford, Connecticut neighborhood is small-town America, a post-World War II housing project where everyone's door is unlocked and everything is within walking distance. Her family is peopled with memorable characters-her ...
Smith's Hartford, Connecticut neighborhood is small-town America, a post-World War II housing project where everyone's door is unlocked and everything is within walking distance. Her family is peopled with memorable characters-her possibly psychic mother, her adoring father, and the numerous aunts and cousins who parade through her life with love and food and endless stories of the old days.
And then there's her brother, Tyler, Mary-Ann's real-life Boo Radley. An autistic before anyone knew what that meant, Tyler was unable to bear noise of any kind. The sound of crying, laughing, phones ringing, or toilets flushing was such an assault, he would substitute that pain with another: he'd try to chew his arm off.
Hanging over this chaotic, but joyous American childhood is the sinister shadow of an approaching serial killer. The menacing Bob Malm lurks throughout this family portrait, and when the paths of innocence and evil cross one early December evening in 1953, the havoc he unleashes forever alters the landscape of Smith's childhood.
I've loaned it to three other people who've also found it an excellent read, if painful in parts. I'll re read it again and again.
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Posted March 13, 2010
I picked this up on a whim when I needed a few books on CD for a long drive. This book turned out to be much better than I'd expected, with full development of a suspenseful plot within a thoughtful memoir. The references to 1950s America are excellent. Having grown up in the 1960s, I still recall the echos of the America the author describes. I'll recommend it to friends.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 16, 2010
I lived in Hartford, Connecticut, not long after Bob Malm finally paid for his horrific crimes. The story was just part of recent history by then, and the 50's ethos of silent acceptance still lived. What was missing was the real story. Mary-Ann Tirone Smith has told that story at last, and in telling the details of the murder of her classmate also gives the listener fascinating insights into the writing process and what it feels like to deal with tragedy and horror that strikes at your soul. This is not just another real-life crime story. The author takes the reader on a journey that begins with the birth of a beleaguered soul and ends with the freeing of her own sad spirit. Reading the book aloud to us, the author imbues the words with nuances that might have been missed by another reader. Her phrasing is hypnotic and she frequently left me sitting in parking lots and driveways waiting for the end of a chapter so that I could turn off the engine and resume my day without interrupting her. The tale is spell-binding. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It's one of the handful that will reside permanently in my glove box to be brought out on long drives when I want a fully emotional experience nearly overwhelming in its stark humanity.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
This was one of the "staff picks" from my local library, and I've never been led wrong going with staff recommended books. I also was interested in the story because I grew up in a suburb of Hartford (Manchester, CT), have remained in the general area, knew a few "working stiffs" who made a career at Abbott Ball, and am familiar with a number of things that Mary Anne Tirone Smith referred to. I, too, grew up reading the Hartford Courant and Hartford Times--although my family had one more paper in the mix, the Manchester Evening Herald. (And, like Mary Anne, I read the funnies first, too.) I, too,enjoyed weddings where hoopi shoopi was a familiar refrain. I, too, remember a time when a strong and unquestinoed Catholic upbringing was ingrained. And even though I never had to experience life with a challenging, autistic family member, Tirone-Smith shares life with her brother in a whimsical way through the eyes of a child who has learned to adapt because she does not know life in any other way. And so, in reading this memoir, so many pleasant or at least familiar nostalgic thoughts came to mind. But then, Tirone-Smith does an excellent and foreboding job of slowly and methodically introducing a separate storyline biography of a dangerous psychopathic individual whose violence toward her childhood friend, Irene, ultimately severs the story and brings to an abrupt end what otherwise might have been an idyllic childhood memoir. Tirone-Smith weaves a very readable and moving memoir that serves as a fitting tribute to Irene, and serves as a reminder of just how precious life is.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2009
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