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Dirty Little Angels.

Dirty Little Angels

Chris Tusa

Livingston Press

9781604890303 $15.95

Sometimes the experience of reading a book is greatly enhanced by our state of mind at the time we read it, the events in our life around that time, or a panoply of other factors. In this instance, by complete happenstance, the random selections from my play-list while reading "Dirty Little Angels" seemed a strangely appropriate mix of dark, politicized hip-hop and rap with a little bit of Henry Rollin's ranting thrown in. I felt my level of the engagement with the subject matter was definitely increased by these factors.

This story centers around the lives of a family of four in post-Katrina New Orleans. Struggling with money, dealing with the issues involved in a miscarriage, marital infidelity and 16-19 year old children involved in drugs, violent crime and associating with less than savory individuals. We follow these various events over a relatively short span of time through the eyes of the daughter, sixteen year old Hailey.

Many times, I find stories like this to be deceptively simple. They are so stark, blunt and realistic that one simply flies through them, carried along by rapid gunfire of events from a beating-turned-homicide by Hailey, her brother Cyrus and their drug dealing ex-con acquaintance Moses to Hailey's attempted suicide. We see the consequences for these, and other actions, in such an everyday light it is easy to not look too deeply at what is going on. However, I feel that is the very point of stories such as this, to remind us that for many people such events are everyday life. It is easy to forget, in front of our computer screens, in our offices and on our campuses, within the various facades we hang on our ivory towers, that for many people reality is a much darker place. Work like this lets us safely peek through a keyhole into the struggles of that other world, which is not so brightly lit.

The story ends with a corruption and violence not unexpected, but leaves us with many unanswered questions as to the eventual fate of the various characters. Perhaps, as is said in the book, '... those who suffer first shall then be saved ...' and these all too human characters will find their lives eventually transformed into something else through the alchemy of tragedy. Or, perhaps, as is all too often the case with the downtrodden, they will find that their misery and actions will simply perpetuate more misery.

Joel Hacker

COPYRIGHT 2009 Midwest Book Review
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Author:Hacker, Joel
Publication:Reviewer's Bookwatch
Article Type:Book review
Date:Nov 1, 2009
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