Legendary writer Trevanian brings readers his most personal
novel yet: a funny, deeply felt, often touching autobiographical novel destined
to become a classic American coming-of-age story.
The place is Albany, New York. The year is 1936.
Six-year-old Jean-Luc LaPointe, his little sister, and their spirited but
vulnerable young mother have been abandoned—again—by his father, a charmer and
a con artist. With no money and no family willing to take them in, the
LaPointes manage to create a fragile nest at 238 North Pearl Street. For the
next eight years, through the Great Depression and Second World War, they live
in the heart of the Irish slum, with its ward heelers, unemployment, and
grinding poverty. As Jean-Luc discovers, it’s a neighborhood of “crazyladies”:
Miss Cox, the feared and ridiculed teacher who ignites his imagination; Mrs.
Kane, who runs a beauty parlor/fortune-telling salon in the back of her
husband’s grocery store; Mrs. Meehan, the desperate, harried matriarch of a
thuggish family across the street; lonely Mrs. McGivney, who spends every day
tending to her catatonic husband, a veteran of the Great War; and Jean-Luc’s
own unconventional, vivacious mother.
Jean-Luc is a voracious reader who never stops dreaming of a
way out of the slum. He gradually takes on responsibility for the family’s
survival with a mix of bravery and resentment while his mom turns from spells
of illness and depression to eager planning for the day when “our ship will
come in.” It’s a heartfelt and unforgettable look back at one child’s life in
the 1930s and ’40s, a story that will be remembered long after the last page is
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