Sunday, April 06, 2014

Snow in August by Pete Hamill

Snow in August, Pete Hamill. New York: Warner Books, Inc., 1997 and 1999. e-book, 294 pps.

     Michael Devlin is an eleven year old boy who lives in Brooklyn with his mum. His da died in the war. He is being raised Roman Catholic. He is crazy about baseball and comic books. He has an active imagination which serves him well. The novel opens around Christmas time in 1946.

     Michael has a chance encounter during a blizzard with a rabbi on his way to church to serve as an altar boy. This encounter changes his life.

     There are swears in this book, a few f-bombs. Stuff that kids might say to each other. And some violence. Crooked cops. These things shape Michael.

     There is blatant racism directed at a Jewish shopkeeper in the neighborhood and at Jackie Robinson-- the first black man to play in the major leagues.

     There is magic in the book also. Michael learns Yiddish and the rabbi learns English. They become friends, bonded by heartbreak and situations out of their control.

     Nothing stays the same. Michael is changed by friendship and magic. He is transformed much as a fictional golem is transformed from mud into something profound and alive..

sapphoq reviews says: Pete Hamill invokes the feel of Brooklyn from the first words of this novel until the last. I was transported to a different time. Snow in August is most excellent and I highly recommend it.

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