The author describes life at the reform school and the treatment he and his friends received at the hands of the guards is horrifying. This reader could not fathom such abuse, all sanctioned or ignored by government officials who looked away rather than deal with abuse of very bad boys, after all.
If the detail of life within the reform school were not enough to drain the reader emotionally, the book continues on to a most amazing ending.
Those boys finally got out of that reform school, their bodies and minds never to be the same. At some point, a guard of their torment passes the path of several of the friends and at some point the guard meets an unfortunate end.
The book takes another turn as the trial of the guard's murderer is handled by two of the other friends, one the PROSECUTOR!
The fix was in.
The trial takes place and what should have been an open-shut case turns out to be anything but. For the people in Hell's kitchen gather all of their resources and justice, in a most unbelievable and amazing fashion, is done.
I can't recommend this book enough. Every human on earth should be required to read this book, in fact.
It will change your life forever.
Understand that I am not proud of this fact as no one likes being fooled. But for the past few years I have been reading bits and pieces about this book, which Carcaterra alleges to be the story of his childhood.
It was all a lie. Even though the author claims it to be true. Indeed the book was in the "non-fiction" section of the library.
There's nothing wrong with it being a fiction piece. If properly classified it would still have been a wonderful book. Although I don't know about that life-changing thing had I known the book was not true as claimed. Fiction rarely changes my life. I thought my life was changed because I THOUGHT it was all true.
Why I was ready to don riot gear and march upon New York for its horrific reform school system. For it was the fact that I thought the book was TRUE that raised my ire. I thought that young children in NY reform schools routinely had guards pee in their cornflakes and that murder was the norm in these institutions.