Another Miss in the World of New Literature

23 11 2010

I was recently asked to review a copy of Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa.  Off the blurb given it seemed like it might be a decent read.

“Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses’s lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses’s twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.”  – LibraryThing

One of the editorial reviews on Amazon.com called it “the To Kill a Mockingbird of 2009”.  I would have to grossly disagree.  Though I think the idea seemed great and the characters are decently fleshed out, there is no real point to the story.   There is no “what it’s about” it’s a “who it’s about”.  Hailey is who it’s about, but I felt like she wasn’t real enough to really care about.  She walks through the story with no one really tying her down.  She has a brother, a set of parents, a best friend, etc.  but she has no one that is just hers that she really relates to and confides in.  Her first sexual encounter is rushed and done with her best friend’s boyfriend while the best friend was sleeping.  There was no thoughts to it, just impulse and no consequences.  It seemed surreal.

Also, calling Dirty Little Angels a novel is a huge stretch of the term.  At best it’s a novella, though it seems more like a short story that rambles.    If it says anything, I was reading and expecting the climax of the story to happen at any turn of the page; and then it just ended.  Looking back, I can find the climax; but it seems a little hollow.  I expected something more.

It really seems like it would have been a great story if given some more time, some more editing, and some more plot.  The story feels unfinished and hopelessly filled with product placement and bad decisions to make it seem more gritty and real.  Instead it feels a little fake, a little desperate, and very undone.  It could have been so much better, but I think the author lost his way a little and then rushed to hit the end for publication.   It could have been great.  Maybe not up there with To Kill a Mockingbird, but at least something more than an inflated short story with no point.

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