All Souls Book Review

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All Souls: A Family Story From Southie

By Micheal Patrick MacDonald. (Ballentine Books under The Random House Publishing Corporation, 1999, 266pp. $14.00)

Michael Patrick MacDonald saw hatred animated on a Friday in the early days of October. Some people were reading the newspaper in brightly lit kitchens. Some children were coloring with brightly hued crayons. Some fathers were getting into cars in front of their beautiful homes. But there were no crayons, bright kitchens, or fathers in nice cars on Dorchester Street in Southie that day. Only the cruelest manifestation of blind hatred. Michael Patrick MacDonald was an innocent child when he stood only feet away from a black man who was having the life literally beaten from his body, one kick, one punch, one rock at a time. "I remember the man's tears clearing paths in the blood on his face."

Michael Patrick MacDonald lived a frightening life. To turn the book over and read the back cover, one might picture a decidedly idyllic existence. At times frightening, at times splendid, but always full of love. But to open this book is to open the door to Southie's ugly truth, to MacDonald's ugly truth, to take it in for all it's worth, to draw our own conclusions. One boy's hell is another boy's playground. Ma MacDonald is a palm tree in a hurricane, bending and swaying in the violent winds of Southie's interior, even as things are flying at her head, she crouches down to protect her children, to keep them out of harms way. We grew up watching Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow and Peanuts. Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up watching violence, sadness and death.

MacDonald recalls Southie quite like an adult might describe his abusive father. He still holds Southie dear to his heart, still acknowledges its part in shaping him as a person, giving him life and shelter and an imagined protection. But he also reveals the pain that Southie inflicted upon him, upon every one of Old Colony's residents. He tells...
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