A well-written, finely tuned first novel about coming of age in Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen in the 1960's. As the novel begins, ten-year-old Matthew is a street kid who hangs around the West Side piers with his pal Justin. Matthew's father deserted the family when Matthew was small; his mother is a failed cabaret singer and alcoholic living with a kindly Puerto Rican named Sal. Soon, Matthew's life changes: Justin begins hanging out with a tough gang called the Bloodhounds, and his mother kicks Sat out after Sat slugs her. One day on the Streets, Matthew meets another lonely boy, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn named Asa; the two of them become fast friends, and Matthew's vague homoerotic longings begin to focus on Asa. At school in the fall, Asa is badly beaten by Justin, who resents his friendship with Matthew, but the beating brings Matthew and Asa closer together, and they begin to explore each other's bodies. Gabriel is a subtle writer--especially in his understanding of Matthew's prepubsecent sexuality--and his characters catch at your heart and take hold.