All Souls Book Review
is a difficult book to read. Not in the sense that the material is difficult to comprehend or the writing is too verbose, but in an emotional sense. Most of my friends in our book club grew up in the same area, Massachusetts. Although we didn't live and experience the same sort of dramatic and hidden lifestyle as the author did in Southie (South Boston), we did grow up with the same attitudes, the same stigmas, the same ignorance and the same community intolerance for others. So for a few of us, reading All Souls
brought back those inexplicable feelings of a place we grew up in time which we would rather leave behind. Not to say that all of what we experienced was bad, not at all, we were still a world away from Southie. But some of it was better off left as a dying memory.
Because some of us felt that way, we give a big bravo to the author, Michael Patrick MacDonald, for digging up his past and letting the world know about what went on in Southie. He was brave enough to mention in detail his own casting of stones in the racial riots of the 70s which took place in Southie with the busing laws. He was young, he was taken in by the enthusiastic and racist community and raised by them. He almost had no choice but to become racist himself.
However the life he experienced in this area ruined his entire family. He suffered the loss of four siblings from drugs and violence. As he matured he was able to find a way out. Like many of us, he simply evolved and grew up. But in a place such as Southie, he was lucky to escape. Most people didn't. Instead of leaving everything behind him, tucked neatly away in the past, he marched forward with his novel All Souls bringing back all of the memories and ill feelings of growing up in South Boston. Perhaps for him, it is a way of healing. But for everyone else, it is a lesson. I feel that he was able to achieve two important goals with his novel. First, he has cleared his conscience and second, he was able to thoughtfully articulate to the world a true story of drugs, violence, racial intolerance and their consequences. A valuable lesson for any individual or community.
I think Michael Patrick MacDonald is a very courageous author. Very courageous indeed.
If you have ever wanted to learn about Boston and the Irish Community, pick up All Souls.
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