A Kid from Southie

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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)
Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
Where do you turn when your horrible life just keeps getting worse? Aiden O'Connor tries hard to do the best with the cards he was dealt. But after his mom loses another job when his drunk, absentee father trashes the bar where she works, he cannot bear to watch her spiral into a black hole of alcohol and depression. Aiden tries to channel his anger in the boxing ring, but as good as he is, it just does not pay the rent—especially after his mother loses yet another job. Left with minimal options, he turns to the one he was trying to avoid—doing odd jobs for Liam, "the King of the Street." Though Aiden does everything he can to hang tightly to his last shred of morals as he gets himself deeper and deeper into Liam's world. The partnership between Shea and Harmon comes together in this novel as the award winning author shapes this raw story of life on the streets. They have created the iconic underdog in Aiden O'Conner—a teenage boy trying to scrape by without losing sight of who he is. Readers hoping for a "boxing story" will be disappointed, as that angle takes a backseat at times to the more prevalent Irish Mob backdrop. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
VOYA - Steven Kral
Seventeen-year-old Aiden O'Connor is a boxer with a lot of promise. Having just won his first amateur fight, boxing could be his way out of his South Boston project. It will not be easy, however. In addition to controlling his anger and graduating from a school that he increasingly sees as unimportant, Aiden must also cope with a drunk but absentee father, a mother who is finding it increasingly difficult to keep a job, a budding romance with a Cuban classmate, and a family friend who is more than happy to offer Aiden work in his organized crime group. Gritty and cinematic, the novel is a definite page-turner. The plot moves quickly and the underlying theme of the different types of loyalty does not intrude on the story. Aiden is a sympathetic character, but the novel does not shy from showing how his decision to become an enforcer for the Irish mob affects him—both personally and in his interactions with others. The book is a natural for reluctant high school readers. Reviewer: Steven Kral
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Aiden O'Connor, a South Boston Irish kid, is fighting his first boxing match-and he's losing. Then his opponent calls him a name, and Aiden, who has anger management issues, gets mad and wins. With an alcoholic mom and dad who aren't paying the rent, a drug-dealing best friend, a biracial girl he's in love with, and the Mafia ruling his neighborhood, the 17-year-old has a lot to stress about. Tempted by the money the Mafia and drugs offer, yet struggling with wanting to get out of the hood and the ultimate lack of control, Aiden is faced with numerous dilemmas and must make difficult choices. Ultimately, he is grappling with the meaning of power and being a man. With lots of action, short chapters, and realistic but raw language, this one's a winner. The great cover will attract reluctant readers and the content will keep them turning the pages.—Amy Cheney, Alameda County Library, Oakland, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781934813539
  • Publisher: Westside Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2011
  • Pages: 250
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: HL590L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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