This novel was a required reading for my Master's of Social Work program. Sometimes I am weary of required reading only because they are too "textbookish" and at times can be quite boring. This novel was such a surprisingly good read. When I finished the book I could not believe how moved I was by what this family had been through in South Boston (Southie).
All Souls is a memoir written by Patrick MacDonald. Patrick hails from an Irish American family deeply rooted in the belief that everything revolves around community and family. There were 10 children borne to Helen MacDonald King. I want to focus first on Helen MacDonald. This lady sounds like one of the strongest women, in character and spirit than I ever could believe existed. She suffered four failed marriages and the deaths of four of her boys. One of her daughters suffered head trauma which ended up in a coma, and when revived, suffered unrepairable brain damage. With only brief interludes of male father figures which came in and out of the children's lives, I would me remiss if I did not assume that she was to be socially labelled a "single parent." I am not sure I want to use "single mother", because in my eyes she did the duties of both mother and father.
MacDonald begins his story with describing "All Souls Night" at a church where community members have gathered to name out loud the children in their family who have died prematurely due to violence and drugs in Southie.
Then, MacDonald begins to tell the reader his memories of growing up in South Boston and the struggles that he saw his family go through. There were all the factors of social welfare going on. The environment of Poverty, gang warfare, drugs, guns, and strained race relations. It would take, I think, at least ten pages to go through all the emotions I felt and why while reading this memoir. I can only recommend that one reads it themselves in order to see what I mean, when I say, hold on to your hats, cause its a bumpy emotional ride. You will find yourself crying, loving, hating, and straining to believe that such a world exists (existed)....especially if you have never experienced this type of rugged environment.
If you are to ever want to walk in someone else shoes, please, please, please pick up this read ****
Buy the book http://www.amazon.com/All-Souls-Family-Story-Southie/dp/0807072133
Watch a video of author Michale MacDonald https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BgD_zuaks0