Michael Patrick MacDonald,
All Souls:
A Family Story from Southie

(Beacon, 1999; Ballantine, 2000)

This is a true tale of the harsh side of American life.

Set mostly in the 1970s in the most affluent country in the world, the MacDonald family was devastatingly poor. With their mother and a series of her unreliable boyfriends, the nine children lived in the section of Boston known as "Southie," a largely Irish ghetto.

Caught in a vicious circle of fierce pride, in both their Irish and American heritages, many families including the MacDonalds were unable or unwilling to leave. Thus, the neighborhood remained intact and everyone living in it remained trapped at poverty level.

Michael MacDonald claims to have grown up unaware of the insidious threats to his family and friends caused by the ever-present Irish mafia. Drugs were sold openly in the streets and, of the entire MacDonald family, only Michael resisted their lure. Violence was a daily factor in their lives, most famously during the busing strikes of the mid-1970s.

There is nothing pretty about growing up in a ghetto, and MacDonald doesn't attempt to make it so. But in such a tight-knit community, loyalties are formed -- and MacDonald never renounces nor promotes the Southie way. He tells his story just as he experienced it: good, bad and truly terrible.

[ by Katie Knapp ]

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