A unique, emotional novel about lifelong companionship and brutal social injustice.

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Dracaena Marginata

An intense, uplifting third novel from Greco (Tommy the Quarterback, 2012, etc.) that maps an unlikely friendship as it confronts adulthood, prejudice and the mistreatment of the mentally ill.

Sandy Morelli, an Italian Catholic boy with a hot temper and a big heart, grows up in the poor part of 1950s Youngstown, Ohio. He and his neighbor Rigley Potter develop a close friendship, pretending to be pirates, exploring the wilderness, playing football and baseball, and always sticking together. Some kids tease Sandy for hanging out with a “hillbilly,” but it doesn’t bother him. As he and Rigley grow older, they attend different high schools and Sandy gets involved with football, but they still manage to spend time together on the weekends. Sandy slowly starts to realize, however, that Rigley is in fact mentally challenged. He tries to help his friend assimilate into mainstream young-adult life, even getting him a job as a golf caddy, only to see others brutally bully and tease him. The friends grow apart when Sandy leaves Youngstown to join the military, but they reunite several years later when Sandy gets a job at Wyandotte State Hospital. Throughout the novel, Greco never shies away from moments of brutal intensity, filtering them through Sandy’s tough yet empathetic voice. The author depicts Rigley as childish, but Sandy never patronizes him, as he understands Rigley’s simple, whimsical intellect. The book indicates the passing of time with subtle but accurate regional slang and hints of pop culture, and Greco’s careful pacing of Sandy’s gradual realization of his friend’s challenges will break readers’ hearts. The author takes on heavy, difficult subject matter here but always brings the story back to its foundation: the unbreakable bond between childhood friends.

A unique, emotional novel about lifelong companionship and brutal social injustice.

Pub Date: April 24, 2014

ISBN: 978-1497336513

Page Count: 258

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: July 11, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2014

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A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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While a few weeks ago it seemed as if Praeger would have a two month lead over Dutton in their presentation of this Soviet best seller, both the "authorized" edition (Dutton's) and the "unauthorized" (Praeger's) will appear almost simultaneously. There has been considerable advance attention on what appears to be as much of a publishing cause celebre here as the original appearance of the book in Russia. Without entering into the scrimmage, or dismissing it as a plague on both your houses, we will limit ourselves to a few facts. Royalties from the "unauthorized" edition will go to the International Rescue Committee; Dutton with their contracted edition is adhering to copyright conventions. The Praeger edition has two translators and one of them is the translator of Doctor Zhivago Dutton's translator, Ralph Parker, has been stigmatized by Praeger as "an apologist for the Soviet regime". To the untutored eye, the Dutton translation seems a little more literary, the Praeger perhaps closer to the rather primitive style of the original. The book itself is an account of one day in the three thousand six hundred and fifty three days of the sentence to be served by a carpenter, Ivan Denisovich Shukhov. (Solzhenitsyn was a political prisoner.) From the unrelenting cold without, to the conditions within, from the bathhouse to the latrine to the cells where survival for more than two weeks is impossible, this records the hopeless facts of existence as faced by thousands who went on "living like this, with your eyes on the ground". The Dutton edition has an excellent introduction providing an orientation on the political background to its appearance in Russia by Marvin Kalb. All involved in its publication (translators, introducers, etc.) claim for it great "artistic" values which we cannot share, although there is no question of its importance as a political and human document and as significant and tangible evidence of the de-Stalinization program.

Pub Date: June 15, 1963

ISBN: 0451228146

Page Count: 181

Publisher: Praeger

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1963

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