I think that thoughtful, introspective teenagers would find this book speaks to them; I know as an introspective adult, it really spoke to me. Of course, being from Chicago myself made it an extra special treat, but that’s not a requirement. Gifford’s Roy sees the world with calm and wondering eyes, very nearly innocent, which of course changes as he grows, but he’s very likeable and interesting. He has a weary mother and a pragmatic, wise grandfather, and lots of goofy friends who drag him into questionable activities. But we see Chicago as Roy sees it, with all its harsh city life, public school days angst, and a young man’s dreams, through a filter of curiosity and compassion that helps us read life itself more thoughtfully.
This review first appeared in the Historical Novels Review, February 2011.
Sad Stories of the Death of Kings
Barry Gifford, Seven Stories Press (New York) 2010, 201 pp., pb, YA/Adult