Audiobook Review: THE EDGE OF LOST by Kristina McMorris

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If you follow me regularly, you might remember that back in December I was part of a Historical Fiction Book Blast for THE EDGE OF LOST by Kristina McMorris. The book sounded so good I put it on my TBR list!

Here’s the overview:

On a cold night in October 1937, searchlights cut through the darkness around Alcatraz. A prison guard’s only daughter—one of the youngest civilians who lives on the island—has gone missing. Tending the warden’s greenhouse, convicted bank robber Tommy Capello waits anxiously. Only he knows the truth about the little girl’s whereabouts, and that both of their lives depend on the search’s outcome.

Almost two decades earlier and thousands of miles away, a young boy named Shanley Keagan ekes out a living as an aspiring vaudevillian in Dublin pubs. Talented and shrewd, Shan dreams of shedding his dingy existence and finding his real father in America. The chance finally comes to cross the Atlantic, but when tragedy strikes, Shan must summon all his ingenuity to forge a new life in a volatile and foreign world.

Skillfully weaving these two stories, Kristina McMorris delivers a compelling novel that moves from Ireland to New York to San Francisco Bay. As her finely crafted characters discover the true nature of loyalty, sacrifice, and betrayal, they are forced to confront the lies we tell—and believe—in order to survive.

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There’s a lot going on in this novel — from Ireland to coming to America to NYC to Alcatraz. Shan/Tommy goes from being a poor child immigrant with no family, to being part of an Italian clan, to trying to make a solid adult existence for himself, to ending up in Alcatraz. I enjoyed reading his journey along the way. Ms. McMorris’s writing kept me engaged and I felt connected to Shan, especially when things were not going his way! While I would have loved even more scenes/details about his life in Alcatraz (Alcatraz was my 5th grade field trip!), the book is already over 300 pages, so I am guessing that she needed to keep it trim.

With themes of forgiveness, self-fulfillment, and the undying bonds of family, THE EDGE OF LOST is a great read and one that lovers of historical fiction will enjoy.

The Audiobook is just under 11 hours and is read by Charlie Thurston. He did an amazing job because this book has Irish accents, New York accents, “gangster accents” (if you know what I mean), Italian accents, and voices that are male, female, and child. It must have been a task to do it and do it well!

I purchased mine from Audible.

Kids’ Review: AL CAPONE DOES MY SHIRTS and AL CAPONE SHINES MY SHOES by Gennifer Choldenko

A while ago, someone asked me if I had read the “Al Capone” series for kids. I hadn’t and she said I should check them out as they were good. A few weeks ago we were at the library doing homework and my daughter saw “Al Capone Does My Shirts”. We took it out and I ended up stealing it from her. I then read the next book in the series, “Al Capone Shines my Shoes”, and I plan to read the third, “Al Capone Does My Homework”.

In these books, it is the mid-1930’s, and Matthew “Moose” Flanagan and his family live on the island of Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay where the notorious gangster Al Capone is doing his time. Moose’s dad works as an electrician on the island. Moose befriends the other children whose fathers work as jailers, wardens, plumbers, and the like. Moose has an older sister, Natalie, who has some developmental delays and differences (similar to autism). Part of this book is Moose’s adventures with the other kids, the scrapes they get into, the prisoners they try to interact with, and their every day life at home and school. The other part of the novel is the relationships between Moose and the others, and especially with his sister. The character of Natalie and her interactions with Moose and their parents are so sensitively and touchingly portrayed that at one point they brought tears to my eyes. (Gennifer Choldenko writes in the author’s notes that she had a sister with developmental differences and Natalie is in part based on her).

I just loved these books! I think middle grade and middle school readers would enjoy them, both boys and girls. They are fun and exciting, yet realistic and sensitive. The characters are so true to life, I think, because they are basically portrayed with their flaws and weaknesses showing. I have recommended them for our school library.