Thursday, January 24, 2008

Brothers, Boyfriends, & Other Criminal Minds

Lurie, April. 2007. BROTHERS, BOYFRIENDS, & OTHER CRIMINAL MINDS. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 9780385731249 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-9]

Set in the 1970s, fourteen-year-old April Lundquist lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Dyker Heights with her parents and two brothers. Her rather ordinary teenaged life is complicated when “Soft Sal,” a notorious mobster, asks her and best friend Brandi to walk his mentally challenged son to school. April agrees hoping this will provide her older brother, Matt, some protection since he has fallen in love with a Mafia princess.

Although the Mafia presence in the book is rather down-played, Lurie creates an authentic seventies setting with many typical coming of age themes. Secondary characters may seem a bit flat, but the carefully crafted setting and April’s sincere quest for her brother’s safety ring true.

Use this book to spark discussion about brother/sister relationships or about mentally challenged or handicapped individuals. This book could also be a spring board for older students to discuss bullying.

For a teen age book group, pair with the movie version of “The Godfather” for a Friday night or summer book and movie event.

Other books about growing up in simpler times or dealing with the mob:
Choldenko, Gennifer. AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS. ISBN 0399238611
Holm, Jennifer L. PENNY FROM HEAVEN. ISBN 037583687X
Korman, Gordon. SON OF THE MOB. ISBN 0786807695

By Donna Woody

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