Friday, June 11, 2010

Review by Shellie: Dirty Little Angels – A Novel by Chris Tusa



This a page turning coming of age story with a dark Southern Gothic tone and an intriguing twist.

Mini Synopsis:   A realistic tale centered in a pre Katrina New Orleans, the main character  Haley is a 16 years old girl whose family is having financial difficulties among other sad things. Mom has had a recent miscarriage and is bedbound. Pop is out of work, is spending his time and what little money they do have at the local bar/pool hall, and is involved with a local stripper/waitress.

With all these elements we can see the main character is caught in a situation which is less than ideal. It is a slippery slope as she tries to emotionally balance the events occurring around her and manage her own maturation and the realizations which adolescence provokes.

The story includes a variety of motley characters, and when Haley gets sucked into some gang like activities, the events conspiring against her culminate into an original, intriguing, slightly paranormal, and heart wrenching ending which is connected to the title – Dirty Little Angels.

My Thoughts:   I devoured this short novel, it was a definite page turner! Chris Tusa captures the confusion of a teenager spiraling out of control, writing of her confusion, contemplations, and angst. In doing so he uses a simple language appropriate for the background of the characters. Here is an example which is in part both funny and dark. Haley and her brother Cyrus are being questioned by a local detective:

When we got there, the officer brought Cyrus and me into a white room with glass walls. A few minutes later, another man came in and sat down. He was an older fat man with a stubbly chin and a bald, liver spotted skull. He had tiny baby teeth that looked like someone had plugged little white Chiclets into his gums, and you could smell Old Spice seeping from his pores. His hips where someone else’s hips welded onto his skeleton, and his chest looked like Brandon Piggert’s chest the summer he’d grown little midget boobs after shooting up a batch of steroids.

This novel asks the questions: How does one become involved in situations we know are not quite right? Where does one fit in within a world that values unreal perfection? And although not a religious book, it examines the concept of whether saving ourselves is right even if it conflicts with our religious beliefs (or lack thereof) or those of others.

The ending, which is connected to the concept of the title, is the clincher, where the title is not at all what it seems. The connection is dark, a bit other worldly, has a touch of insanity, and is something I keep thinking about. I give this great little book 3.5 stars. I am really looking forward to more of this author’s work.

For more information on the book, the author, as well as purchasing links, please see Layers of Thought’s preview for Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa.

Happy Friday everyone! Thanks for reading Layers of Thought.


Blodeuedd said...

I have only heard good things about this one, great review

Unknown said...

Blodueudd -
Really I have not seen reviews for it anywhere. It was really good.

I think he is on book blogs still looking for reviewers, however it will be in document format.

I just stopped by your blog and can't wait for your review of Susanna Clarkes book. :)

Cheryl said...

The author sent me this book via e-mail and I have yet to read it. I need to read it because it sounds very good!

Unknown said...

Cheryl -
I really liked it but then I like dark stories.

It will only take a bit to read. I will be looking for your review or thoughts.

Sherrie said...

Sounds like a really intriguing book. I'll have to check this one out. Have a great day!

Just Books

Unknown said...

Sherrie -
It was if you like a dark story its really good!

Literary Litter said...

I loved this book! I hated the characters so much that I could hardly stand it...but it definitely left an impression with me! Great review :)

Unknown said...

Shawn -
Wow - you hated her but loved the book?

I liked her she just was a bit confused, and did some really dumb stuff.

You know I did not like the main character in The Forest of Hands and Teeth. She was such a whiny complaining person. But I liked the so now that I think about it, this does happen.

Thanks for commenting. :)

David Halpin. said...

Sounds interesting, Shellie. Great review.

Unknown said...

Hey Dave -
*Dave from goodreads?*
I think you would like this one. Cheers!

David Halpin. said...

Yep, the one and only!

Unknown said...

Dave - Now I know :)
Blogger can be fiddly at times.. its frustrating. But hey it beats candles and coal fires.

Sherry said...

Hmmm, sounds like a book that might make me think, and that's a good thing.

You are invited to add a link to your review to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon
( ). The Saturday Review happens every week, and it's a great place to find links to other bloggers' reviews.

Unknown said...

Hi Sherry -
I will be right over to check out your format. Thanks for stopping by and for the invite. :)

Suzanne Yester said...

I really liked the book too! And Chris told me a while back that we might see those characters in another book...

Unknown said...

Suzanne -
It seems that a lot of people have enjoyed this story.

The phrase "Southern friend Greek tragedy" keeps going through my mind.
I certainly underestimated it.

Anonymous said...

I reviewed this one awhile back. I thought it was really good, and he opened a whole new can of worms at the end, didn't he? This one surprised me by how much I ended up liking it, despite the heaviness.


Unknown said...

Anna -
Exactly said... sadly - I can't remember your review...
This has been an extremely popular post...funny and interesting. :)
You never

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