Friday, November 28, 2008

89. "The Given Day" - Dennis Lehane


Dennis Lehane shows amazing versatility in his new novel, The Given Day. While it is no Mystic River, it is also not Gone Baby Gone. He has elevated his writing to near "liter-ahry" greatness.

Boston, 1918. Danny Coughlin works his police beat with dreams of getting his gold badge through hard work and the help of his infamous father, Thomas Coughlin. He lives with Italians, minds his Irish roots, and busts Bolsheviks.

Tulsa, 1918. Luther Lawrence is trying to make something of his new life with a wife and baby on the way. However, there is only so much that Tulsa offers black Americans besides his job as an elevator operator, but Luther's choices send him all the way to Boston to live a life on the lam.

Lehane weaves the stories of these two men with historical elements like the molasses flood, outbreak of Spanish flu, and Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox. As a teacher and writer, I dissected his chapters to try to find out what made the heart beat. It's simple, really... have an eye for stunning juxtapositions between fact and fiction and have an ear for incredibly realistic dialogue. However, as a reader, I just devoured this book in a day and a half. Gulp. Yum.

4.5 out of 5.0 Boston Golds.

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