THE VIOLENT CHILD by Michael Sheridan


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A family drama in two acts, Sheridan's debut is a sensitive study of working-class perils as a boy-turned-man struggles to love the tough but fragile contradiction that is his mother.

Lorraine is a hard-drinking, oxygen-toting, wheelchair-bound wreck who still lives in the inner-city neighborhood where she raised her son Teddie. Though he's long since moved on to become a somewhat respectable college professor, Teddie still visits Lorraine, still cares for her in the detached way he's learned to protect himself, and still matches her bourbon for bourbon in spite of having taken the pledge. But he remains baffled by her. As they sit in Lorraine’s filthy apartment, boys from the ’hood outside being paid to watch Teddie's wheels so they don't get stolen, mother and son cover the same ground as always. Teddie's early childhood is full of fractures: days or nights spent with his father's parents while Lorraine worked different shifts at the steel mill; times spent with Lorraine as she cursed his drunken, absent father; rare but ineluctable visits from Dad—the time when he came to them bleeding profusely from a barroom brawl, or when he snuck Teddie into the bar while he got drunk with his girlfriend, only to be caught by Lorraine and beaten by her steelworker friend Trudy after he broke his wife's wrist. Teddie recalls the change in Lorraine after his sister was born dead, when depression gripped her and wouldn't let go. And he cannot forget the close of his family melodrama, when in the bitter divorce proceedings he had to choose between his grandparents, his drunken dad, and his depressed mama, who had taken up with the lesbian Trudy. Though long shadowed by this past, Teddie does love Lorraine and finally takes the step that will lay those memories to rest.

Newcomer Sheridan makes too much haste toward a happy ending, but, still, his first is a moving, unflinching portrait of filial duty and tough motherly love.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 1-57962-035-3
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Permanent Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2001