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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A Kid From Southie by John “Red” Shea and Michael Harmon

A Kid From Southie by John “Red” Shea and Michael Harmon
Publisher: WestSide Books
Genre Action/Adventure, Contemporary
Length: Full Length (239 pgs)
Age recommendation: 14+
Rating: 4 Suns
Reviewed by Cholla

High school senior Aiden O'Connor's life is in turmoil. Bored with school, his growing skill at boxing won't pay the rent when his drunken father leaves, and someone is keeping his mom from finding work in any pub in South Boston. Lured by childhood friend Tommy's promise of easy money, Aiden reluctantly gets mixed up with the Irish mob. Aiden's strong sense of honor makes him a bit too good at his job with the King of the Street, who wants to keep Aiden involved for reasons of his own. Conflicted about nearly everything, Aiden has to decode where his loyalties lie and when he has had enough. Exploding with tough choices and the grit of true crime, A Kid from Southie is the story of one teen's dangerous trip through the temptations of power and the sacrifices that come with it on his way to deciding who he wants to be.

Life is hard in South Boston and there aren’t a whole lot of opportunities for a kid from Southie, either. Enter Aiden O’Connor, a high school senior who gets a double kick in the gut when his alcoholic and abusive father runs off, leaving him and his unemployed mother alone to fend for themselves. In the fashion of so many teenage boys, Aiden is bound and determined to find another way to survive, no matter the cost. But to what lengths will he go to keep a roof over his head?

Aiden O’Connor has a lot in common with his father – a quick temper, a need to fight, and a desire to prove himself in any way he can. However, he at least sees the disaster his father has made of his life because of his alcoholism and does his best to not follow in his old man’s footsteps. Unfortunately, Aiden can be an utterly unlikable character at times: he’s hard hearted, rude, sometimes inconsiderate and just arrogant to the extreme. However, he does have his shining moments of clarity, too. He has a huge soft spot for his mother, even when he feels she doesn’t deserve it. Those moments when he’s around his Angel, a beautiful Cuban girl from his neighborhood, he finds that he may just be able to redeem himself, too. With her help, he may someday make himself into a good and decent man, despite the odds.

A Kid From Southie is chock full of lessons about life. From the discrimination against Aiden based on where he’s from to that against his girlfriend of mixed race, Aiden is forced to combat Boston’s – and the world’s – misconceptions and prejudices. He learns the hard way about so-called easy money vs. hard work and why the easy way isn’t always the best way. This trip through the school of hard knocks is about to knock this young boy around and good, but when he comes out the other side, he’ll be more man than he ever dreamed he could be.

While tough to read sometimes due to the extreme circumstances Aiden finds himself in, the ending for Aiden and his family is worth it all.

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