The searing novel of a brutal boyhood in 1940s Chicago—and a young man walking the knife’s edge between a life of crime and a brighter future.
The son of a single mother addicted to heroin, Richie grows up in poverty and hardship. His adolescence is a constant battle between hope—in the form of a kind boxing coach, a job in a bowling alley where he can sneak a nap, and a determination to track down his disreputable father—and brutality. Desperately lonely, Richie must contend with the criminal justice system, abusive foster homes, and a period of exile with his grandmother in Tennessee.
In this gritty, semiautobiographical novel by an Edgar Award–winning author, the fate of this young man hangs in the balance as he finds himself tested by want, war, and the ever-present temptation to give up on the possibility of something better.
“Strongly satisfying [and] frequently compelling.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Sustains a sense of tension, moving smoothly between flashbacks of the events of Richie’s early years and the traumatic experiences of his adolescence, then on to his return to Chicago.” —The New York Times