It represents everything I've been fighting and voting for in terms of real funding for schools. What happens when schools don't have that funding to start after school programs, utilize sports programs, or hire decent teachers? See Southie. Of course, the list is unfortunately endless.
All Souls: A Family Story From Southie Background
Every city has neighboring "ghettos" that are just like Southie. It isn't a unique situation.
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When you read MacDonald's book, be careful to take it all in. Don't give up after the first few chapters, where the language is often unpleasant.
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Read his whole story because you'll be left without some of the details to form a full opinion. At the half way point, I thought this guy was cracked. It wasn't until the last quarter of the book where it all began to make sense. I had to put the book down several times because I was disturbed, but making it through to the end was worth it. I honestly wasn't sure how to rate this book.
I knew I liked it, I knew it moved me, and I knew it was completely crazy. It didn't feel like a full five-star book, so I cut it down a peg. Aug 05, Mark Mortensen rated it it was amazing Shelves: autobiography. I love autobiographies as no two lives are ever alike.
He can write and his humor shines throughout. On a side note I grew up northwest of Boston in one of the most unique towns in Massachusetts 28 miles from the South Boston projects. In with a population of 2, the town received its first official police car and throughout my high school years there was so little crime that no police were on duty from 12 PM to 7 AM. I was fortunate and always grateful. Oct 12, Frank rated it it was amazing. The setting is a gritty cityscape of gangsters, unwed mothers, wanton violence, drugs, suicide, and sadness.
And all the faces are white. Through religion, work ethic and relative sobriety, men like Grandpa formed a working class with plenty to be proud of. Grandpa turned out to be right about most everything, including when he saw through the myths and hero worship and called out the Bulger brothers for who they really were. Like busing, the Bulger reign is its own enormous sociological event that MacDonald experienced first hand, and we get perspective not found in the other books on the topic. One of the brothers, Frank MacDonald, was so interesting that an entire movie could be made around his character.
Suffice to say, he was a boxer, and he embodied all the heroic and tragic elements of that profession. His death is a devastating liver punch to the family and to the reader. But these were not the only siblings Michael lost to violence and poverty. The book is true tragedy in the Irish tradition. Daniel Patrick Moynihan is never mentioned but he and his famous report loom rather large in this story. Deep, heavy, and utterly authentic, this is a seminal work; enjoyable on multiple levels and highly instructive. Apr 16, Athena rated it it was ok.
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I was born and raised in New England and I have heard at one point that Southie is pretty tough, but I never really cared enough to think about it. It was usually mentioned by guys that bragged about being from that area and I just don't find violence impressive. I think it is great that Michael MacDonald overcame so many obstacles to have found a positive role in such an ugly place. He's well educated and an activist for safety in Boston suburbs. While I'm all about anti violence I think people I was born and raised in New England and I have heard at one point that Southie is pretty tough, but I never really cared enough to think about it.
While I'm all about anti violence I think people seem to miss the bigger picture when it comes to guns. Programs for people to relinquish possession of their weapons is not going to solve anything. We as citizens have the right to own firearms. The example given in the book related to gun violence was Tommy Viens.
A teenaged boy was playing with a gun and accidentally shot himself. There are rarely parents around in situations like these. These kids grew up in a neighborhood where they didn't snitch on anyone, had their actions dictated by the Mafia of Whitey Bulger, and basically raised themselves. In the entirety of this book I couldn't find an instance where there was a completely reliable adult present.
At all. Especially out of all the parents. Michael seemed to be the only one who had maintained situational awareness and caught on to what was really going on. I also disagreed with other readers about what a good parent Helen King was. There were so many references in the story that made her out to be a completely shallow bimbo who believed her kids should raise each other.go
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Her character infuriated me. She had two teenaged children that had already dropped out of school, younger kids that were abusing drugs with their friends in the apartment they all lived in and she was nowhere to be found. Later on she lost three of her older children to suicide and violence. Helen King was so street smart, she wouldn't take no for an answer, and she stood up for her convictions, yet she couldn't get her kids out of Southie, such a dangerous and scary place, long before her youngest child became a teenager? Before another one of her children was murdered? Why, when she couldn't afford to feed or clothe her children, was she continuing to get pregnant?
Her children were walking on the mattresses that they slept on thrown all over a floor, walking in to find their mother beating up a new boyfriend in self defense. Their apartment was infested with cockroaches, they didn't always have food, and she still wouldn't get a job. I read this book for the political and social issues that South Boston experienced in the 60's and 70's; the forced busing, racism, and the Mafia ties.
Instead I got one of the saddest, but not uncommon, stories I've read in a long time. A story about a bunch of children who needed guidance, support, love, and attention and clearly got the short end of the stick. I understand what poverty is, but I also know what people will do to avoid situations that these poor kids were exposed to.
If Helen King put more effort into raising her children and looking at her situation logically, instead of focusing on her appearance, boyfriends, or her popularity among her peers then maybe her kids might have had a fighting chance at better lives. Feb 08, Debra Anne rated it it was amazing. The MacDonald family is gloriously dysfunctional, brought up by a single mother whose wisdom is matched only by her wildness.
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But MacDonald leaves us no doubt that his guitar-playing, man-loving mother loves her children, against all the odds of poverty and violence and failed romance. This memoir is set in Southie, "Even when we want to say their names, we sometimes get confused about who's dead and who's alive in my family.
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This memoir is set in Southie, the community in Boston which was made famous during the initiation of the desegragation movement. The MacDonald children are caught up in the busing fiasco, and as the younger son, he sees through clear eyes the effect it has upon not only upon his siblings but upon the community. To MacDonald, it wasn't a matter of mixing unwilling races. It was a matter of tearing people out of their communities, both sides, and forcing children into a political upheaval that was so dangerous that many kids dropped out because school had become as risky an option as selling drugs on the streets.
The way MacDonald describes it, a whole generation in Southie was lost because some fools in power thought that the way to get equality was to force little children of both races out of their familiar streets and classrooms. He blames the misguided notions of ivy-league Liberals for the criminalizing of South Boston. Not having been there, I can't agree or disagree, but I always thought busing was a stupid and destructive idea.
I get the idea of bringing children of different races together so that they have opportunity to know each other, of making sure that schools are properly equipped for learning and personal development; but forcing kids into strange schools on the other side of town, under the circumstances of those times, never made sense to me. MacDonald's book vividly describes just how senseless it appeared to him. But the book isn't a rampage against society. It is the story of a family, told in a voice that is as loving and humorous as it is sad and regretful. By the time I finished the book, I almost wanted to have grown up in Southie.
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Jul 27, Jeanette rated it liked it. It's a tough, mean story and not dissimilar to other public housing tales of large metropolis urban poor from my own experience in Marquette Park, Garfield Ridge, Ashburn areas of Chicago.
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