Posted by Literary Titan
An Ambition To Belong is a vivid memoir about your life growing up in 1950’s Detroit. What was the inspiration that made you want to write this book?
To tell the story about Polish American peasant life in inner city Detroit – and my own anxiety-driven experiences in a street gang while attending a private Jesuit college prep high school giving explicit exposure to what many adolescents experience in one way or another.
You recount many struggles you faced growing up. What is a piece of advice that you wish someone gave you when you were young?
I would have wanted to be encouraged to investigate what it was I wanted – rather than accepting what I was being told I was supposed to want.
Do you think immigrant children that grow up in religious families today face the same struggles as you did when you were young?
Yes, immigrant children are always going to struggle with not belonging, feeling like an outsider, grasping at new ways to find identity.
Even though I was second generation, my family was still so embedded in the old ways, in the exclusivity of Polish Catholic identity that it was passed on to me to still struggle with.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
The 3rd book in my Leaving Home Trilogy is titled “When Angels Die” and takes place when the central character Jim is in his mid-20s and is now a professional stage actor. I’m in the final stage of completing it – so I’m hoping that it will be available by the end of year holiday season.
An Ambition to Belong, second book of the Leaving Home Trilogy, is an astute and insightful psychological journey into the inner life of Jim, an adolescent who is trying to forge his own identity. Trapped in two different worlds, he belongs nowhere: at one end his Polish immigrant inner-city Catholic family and its Eastern European peasant beliefs and terrors; and at the other a late-1950s upper-class suburban Jesuit college-prep high school in suburban Detroit where he is totally unprepared to deal with that world of money and arrogance he finds there. At home, raw gut emotion; at school emotionless intellect. At home he is a member of The Royal Lancers, a street gang where his life is threatened by Donny, a psychotically deranged fellow gang member; at school, because of his dress, especially his Ford Motor Company issue black work shoes, he is perceived as a non-entity, a non-being who has little or no existence. Confronted with racism and a savage incident of anti-Semitism, Jim rises to find the strength that forms the first layer of his conscience and his conscious sense of self.
Posted by Literary Titan
Young Jim has reached adolescence and is struggling with where he fits in life. Mostly because he doesn’t know himself well enough at this point to figure out where he feels most at home. He doesn’t fit in school. He joins a gang where he can only hope to belong, but never really does. His home is more house than home with both his parents living almost separate lives. Will the relationships he fosters be meaningful enough to withstand the tumult of adolescent existence?
Jim’s story is quite representative of what teens go through. The author has woven an almost poignant tale of Jim’s struggle to find a home. The story is thoughtfully narrated with an evocative plot and colored with insightful observations. Most of all, it is candid. All has been bared for the reader to see and experience. The reader is pulled into this abyss of raw emotion and overwhelming teenage confusion from the minute Jim celebrates his entrance into the Lancers (the gang) to the point where he loses his friend.
The book makes sparing use of dialogue and utilizes mostly internal dialogues between Jim and the ‘Voice’. The reader gets in depth peeks into Jim’s mind. This helps carry the story and paints a clearer picture of what Jim must have been going through. It is actually easy to lose oneself in Jim’s mind as it is a web of unanswered questions, self-doubt and all-around uncertainty. This is brilliantly executed and is well suited to the plot.
The book is written in plain language that is easy to understand, utilizing simple language to create striking imagery. Keeping the focus on the intriguing characters rather than on some grand literary design. Each character represents some form of human insecurity or peculiarity. Almost every reader will recognize themselves in one or more of the characters. Thereby enhancing the bond between the reader and characters for a more fulfilling experience.
This book left me feeling… haunted (I suppose that’s the right word). Although in the end Jim seems to be settling down, I felt that his questions of where he really belongs and his purpose have not been fully covered. This begs the question; will human beings always carry a degree of uncertainty with them?
This is an exceptional installment in the Leaving Home Trilogy. The first one was an absolute delight, the second one is undeniably beautiful and I am positively giddy for the third.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B07CPDY81Y
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