A novel with high moments, but in final analysis the parts are better than the whole. It suggests an analogy, as a male counterpart, with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn without the seemingly effortless charm and humor and pace, the complete sense of authenticity and conviction that Betty Smith conveyed. Tippy's report of his first eight years is a not too happy blend of fantasy, imagination and complete recall, too adult in interpretation, too total in detail, too melodramatic in its conjunction of incidents. The Locklins' mystery boarder, Prince Sharkey, who involves Tippy as well as his parents in his shady career, provides both the melodrama and the fantasy, neither wholly convincing. But what gives the book its measure of distinction and what survives the artificiality of a plot overlay (it never wholly blends) is a warm picture of a wholesome, natural, united family of Irish Americans- in Brooklyn, a life in which poverty is of secondary importance and more or less taken in stride along with integrity, high standards, mutual devotion, and reasonable ambition. Next door the Duffys' provide a sort of Sangers' Circus' confusion, but for small Tippy it offers fascination and allure. The story ends with Sharkey's mystery clarified, if not solved, and with election day, 1928, when Al Smith, the Locklins' (and their friends') own candidate, went down to bitter defeat. For the first time, Tippy realizes that his small boy Catholic world is not the whole of America.