This 1970s coming-of-age story will have you rooting for Sam to avoid the pitfalls of life in her Bensonhurst neighborhood and achieve her dream. The characters in this debut novel are richly drawn, as is the setting. Although the Brooklyn-accented dialogue is a little heavy in the beginning, it lightens over the last half of the book. The issue of date abuse is explored and analyzed.
Fifteen-year-old half-Jewish, half-Italian Samantha lives with her alcoholic, drug-addicted Catholic mother and her Jewish grandmother. Life in the neighborhood is predictable, with most boys involved in illegal activities and expected to assume positions in mob families. And, most girls find their lives controlled by “Brooklyn Boys” who make decisions for them and keep them in line with physical violence.
Sam dreams of being a writer, crossing the bridge to Manhattan and leaving all of this behind. With the support of her grandmother, her friend and her high school English teacher, Sam may just have what it takes to escape the cycle of abuse and start a new life. (GALLERY, Jan., 336 pp., $26.00)