In 1977 a shoeshine boy, Emanuel Jacques, is brutally raped
and murdered in Toronto. In the aftermath of the crime, twelve-year-old Antonio
Rebelo and his rapscallion friends explore their Portuguese neighborhood’s dark
garages and labyrinthine back alleys. The boys develop a curious relationship
with a charismatic, modern-day Fagin who is master over an amoral world of
hustlers, thieves, and drug dealers.
As the media unravels the truth behind the shoeshine-boy
murder, Antonio starts to see his family—and his neighborhood—as never before. He
becomes aware of the dashed hopes of immigrants, of the influence of faith and
the role of church, and of the frightening reality that no one is really taking
care of him. So intent are his parents and his neighbors on keeping the old
traditions alive that they act as if they still live in a small Portuguese
village, not in a big city that puts their kids in the kind of danger they
would not dare imagine.
Antonio learns about bravery and cowardice, life and death,
and the heart’s capacity for both love and unrelenting hatred in this stunning
coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of a true crime that shook the
city. Download and start listening now!