As part of the Librarything.com member giveaway review program, I received a copy of the novel Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa. I'm in no way obligated to review this book in any certain light.
Dirty Little Angels is a novel that takes place in a poor section in the New Orleans area. The narrating character is a 16 year old girl named Hailey from a highly dysfunctional family. She spends her time with a strange and deviant cast of characters including: her older brother Cyrus and his friend Moses who are working on building a drive through church, but spend their nights drinking and beating people up; Meridian, a classmate who wears skimpy clothes and is know for being easy (and comes from a long line of easy women); a drunk father who spends too much time at the pool hall; her depressed and injured mother who hasn't been the same since a recent miscarriage; and a rich mean uncle.
Tusa is really great at description. When he brings in a new character, you can see the person standing in front of you. His vivid description of the people and places in this book make it easy to visualize. The dialog is prolific and very real. And by very real, I mean. . . it's sometimes pretty mundane. It often reads similarly to the dialog in a Hemingway novel. I'm not a fan of Hemingway, just for the record.
This is not a book for the faint of heart. It's definitely rated R material (with a few X rated scenes tossed into the mix). While some call it "gritty" and "raw," I think some of it goes a little too far over to "gratuitous."
I have a feeling we'll see more of Tusa's work in the future. This is his second published novel and I expect to see more after this. While it's not a style I'm a huge fan of, many people love it and this is a good example of the style. I didn't rate this book terribly highly, but I don't much care for The Great Gatsby either and look where that book stands in the annals of literature today. This book has a similar tone of social commentary to that in The Great Gatsby, for that matter.
So, while I didn't like this book very much, I can appreciate the style and understand that it's the sort of book many people favor. I think Tusa is a talented author who will likely put out more work in the future.