Our wonderful local partners in crime, the staff at Bookworks, are hosting a discussion this week with Canadian author Anthony De Sa on Thursday, April 10, 2014, at 7:00 p.m. De Sa will discuss his book Kicking the Sky, an adult novel but one with major young adult crossover because the main character is a young person. It takes place in the Portuguese neighborhoods of Toronto. The novel is hybrid, filling an odd space between fiction and non-fiction, adult and young-adult. Although based on gruesome events, the novel is carried out through a naive point of view of an adolescent protagonist.
This is certainly not for the faint of heart. It’s a book that may be appropriate for high school audiences, which, despite the subject matter, is not altogether surprising given that the author himself is a high school teacher in Toronto.
Kirkus Reviews‘ synopsis reads “A scrappy immigrant community in Toronto in 1977 sinks deeper into superstition and violence after a child’s murder; a pubescent boy struggles to comprehend the events in this gritty second book from Canadian De Saw based on real events.”
The real events upon which the story are based are gruesome. One reviewer touches on this truth as he writes “On July 28, 1977, Emanuel Jacques – a 12-year-old shoeshine boy from the Azores – was lured into an apartment above a body-rub shop on Yonge Street just south of Dundas. There, he was tortured and raped by three men, who then drowned him in the kitchen sink…The city was traumatized.” The news coverage of the story caused protests by more than 15,000 people, many of whom were Portuguese Canadians. De Sal, a second-generation Portuguese Canadian, personally remembers the event with grim realization. He was roughly the age of the victim at the time the events took place.
Although difficult to stomach at times, this novel offers an ultimately profound perspective on how our lives are shaped by, and in turn shape, our urban environments – and how cultural heterogeneity can be at once divisive and cohesive.
If you’re in town, join us on Thursday at Bookworks (4022 Rio Grande Blvd NW). For more info, visit Bookworks’ website.