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Fast-paced, engrossing and full of heart, The Bookie's Son paints the picture of a family forced to decide just how much they're willing to sacrifice for each other-and at what cost.
Posted September 7, 2012
The Bookie's Son by Andrew Goldstein is a coming of age novel set in the 1960s. This is the author’s debut novel and I hope he will pen a few more.
Ricky Davis is the son of a collector agent to a Jewish crime lord, gambler and, of course, a bookie. Growing up to a poor family in the Bronx during the 1960s is tough and the reader is introduce to many colorful characters, happiness and tragedy during Ricky’s teenage years.
The Davis family is also in the dire straits due to Mr. Davis’ addiction, but young Ricky has a plan. He will help his family out of the dire situation to a better life.
The Bookie’s Son by Andrew Goldstein is an intelligent and funny novel about a somewhat dysfunctional, yet loving family in the 60s. Part a family story, part a coming of age story, the book grabs the reader’s attention on almost every page.
The strength of the novel is on its use of dialogue, the author manages to capture the style of the Bronx and the rhythm of the language with a few Yiddish words to spice it all up. The author manages to capture the sounds of the streets and families in a very human sense. I admired the way Mr. Goldstein encapsulated how kids talk differently on the street than they do at home.
Ricky becomes a man during these turbulent times. He learns his limitations but also what can be accomplished when one puts his mind to a task. The young boy becomes a man while seeing his father, his hero, being beaten down literally and figuratively; discovering that the world is not black and white and that the bad guys often win.
The book combines humor and drama together in a sensible way. You never know when one will start and the other will end. The characters are written very well, it’s hard to imagine that this is the first book the author has published.
Posted June 30, 2012
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.
Posted May 22, 2012
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.]