The Bookie's Son- Book Review

This is one book that has made me wait for the longest time to read and review. I was supposed to get the hard copy of The Bookie's Son by Andrew Goldstein months ago but by some quirk of fate and the amazing efficiency of the Postal Department, I was denied the joy of holding the physical copy of the book. It was my loss entirely since The Bookie's Son is such an amazing story of bonding of a dysfunctional family.

Light but poignant, funny but touching, real but surreal is how I would describe Bookie's Son. It has all the ingredients that make a book unputdownable till the very end. Set in the 1960’s, the book throws us into the Davis’ family drama. And boy what an unconventional family it is. Amazingly depicted, The Bookie’s Son is set in the Bronx and takes us on a ride with Ricky Davis’ and his family’s fight for survival.

Truth is stranger than fiction and this comes forth very clearly in this book. Apparently The Bookie’s Son is based on the author’s life and that’s why it is all the more believable. Ricky Davis is a 12 year old lad with a bookie for a dad, a mother with failed aspirations and myriad aunts, each with idiosyncrasies of their own. One aunt is a kleptomaniac, the other one likes to be operated on and then there are a couple others who are either attention seeker or are experts in getting on people’s nerves. And to top it all, there is a nephew who is a child molester. It doesn’t take more than a few pages of this book to know that we are not in the midst of a normal family but it is so much better and fun to be in this family with its own heartaches and heartbreaks.

With Bar Mitzvah looming over his head, Ricky Davis is a worried boy as life has thrown a curve ball at him sucking him into a whirlpool of turmoil. His father, Harry has messed up big time by getting into a blotched up get-rich scheme that blows up in his face. The mobster (Nathan Glucksman) that Harry works as a bookie for is a despicable man with absolutely no ethics; not that we expect anything other than disgusting levels of ethics from him.

The real problem starts when Harry instead of collecting, gives away the mobster’s money to a tailor. All hell breaks loose and the situation assumes special gravity. Glucksman wants his money back and can go to any extent in either recovering it or let it go for some carnal pleasure. At this point both Ricky and his mother Pearl are thrown into the harsh realization that it is a do-or-die situation for them. As Ricky grows from a boy to a figurative man, he has to become the shoulder that his mother can lean on (sometimes uncomfortably) and explores and exploits Mara, the Hungarian refugee.

I will not go into the details of what happens next and how the drama unfolds but it would be safe to say that this gripping family saga takes its reader into a cocoon of crime, love, trust and hope. The Bookie’s Son is a book about relationships and it so truly conveys that come what may, family should always be first.

Andrew Goldstein weaves this story with a deft hand and delivers an emotional and moving tale that takes the reader into a world of uncertainties of life.

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