In the absorbing tradition of Frank McCourt's Angela's Ashes, Smith mixes humor in the face of adversity with moving insight as he tells what it was like to be young, Irish, Catholic, and poor. It is a tale in which the presence of Dennis's courageous mother, Mary, is never far off, and the mystery of what has happened to Dennis's father underlies all. As Dennis ages from seven to twenty-five, we see him learn life's indelible lessons. Street denizen, truant, and hard-living thrill seeker, Dennis Smith was, in many ways, a young man slated for failure. For his salvation, he could count only on his mother, who at a cost to her own dreams, sometimes hilariously, always lovingly, pulled him by the ear into adulthood; and his Irish-Catholic roots - which even in his darkest moments whispered to him of success, of the power of faith and family and the force of the written word.
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