Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rob gives us The Given Day, by Dennis Lehane

Babe Ruth is there. So is J. Edgar Hoover. Boston Police Chief Stephen O’Meara and Communist leader Louis Fraina are there too. Dennis Lehane’s novel The Given Day incorporates some well-known and some lesser-known historical figures into a gripping story of 1918 Boston. The flu pandemic, the police strike, World War I and the crackdown on radicals are woven into the story so well, they might as well be characters. The two main protagonists, one black one white, see the world and all the forces arrayed against them, in sharp focus. In Lehane’s skillful hands, we discover page by page just how much that clear vision can shield them from those forces. And Lehane is not timid about portraying the ugly realities of class and race in the World War I era. If you’ve enjoyed Lehane’s earlier books, The Given Day will be a departure, but a departure well worth it.

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