In the tradition of Barry Levinson and John Waters, this quirky novel about growing up in Baltimore is filled with unforgettable characters and places of local interest but the appeal of the story is universal. It unfolds cinematically, with short chapters told from several points of view as the two main characters search for someone to love and something to believe in. Ellen is an emotional, rebellious girl who longs to break free of the strict Catholic upbringing imposed by her mother. Tommy is a shy brainy kid who plays on the eighth grade basketball team coached by her brother. He has a crush on her but she is several years older and pays him no attention. They both come from a tightly knit inner city neighborhood and attend the same parochial school, but after graduating from high school in the 1960's they are thrust into a larger world of racial unrest, a divisive war, and the political upheaval that followed. Tommy goes away to college, while Ellen stays in the neighborhood and is faced with the unexpected challenges of adulthood: an unwanted pregnancy, the death of her brother in Vietnam, and a broken marriage. Abandoned by her husband, she moves back home with her parents to raise their two children. When Tommy shows up unexpectedly at her father’s funeral, she gladly accepts his offer to help renovate her house. In the process they fall in love and hope to find lasting happiness together despite their differences.
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