All Souls: A Family Story from Southie, written by Michael Patrick MacDonald, is a sincere memoir published in 1999. The author uses his talent of putting life experiences and feelings into words to describe the place where he used to live in his childhood. The book starts with the author, who now works as an anti-violence activist, returning to the Old Colony neighborhood of South Boston, or simply Southie, to give a small tour to the reporter (MacDonald 10).
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The first several chapters introduce the readers to Michael’s family members, including his mother and numerous siblings. Unfortunately, the environment and atmosphere in which the children grow up are dangerous and hostile. Falling under the influence of violence, several of Michael’s brothers get involved in thefts and other crimes, which leads them to death (MacDonald 55). At first, the author becomes devastated and numb (MacDonald 269), but the fact that his other brother is unjustly convicted of murder makes Michael return to reality and become an activist who fights against violence.
The author’s resilience and desire to change the world for the better and help people, given that no one helped his family, admires and gives hope. It is also essential to notice that, even though the atmosphere in the neighborhood was terrible, and Michael lost several siblings due to the hostile and violent environment, he loves that place. For example, he mentions that everyone in Southie considered each other family, and the neighborhood was watching their backs for threats (MacDonald 10). It means that, despite any negative and traumatic experiences, home always remains home. The book covers many essential topics, including family, crimes, violence, poverty, police corruption, and racism. Therefore, it is a perfect literary work that makes readers thoughtful of their life choices.
In this book, several themes and issues draw my attention and make me emotional. For example, my family is my main weakness, and I always want to protect my parents and siblings. Therefore, the only character I can relate myself to is Michael himself. He is the person who did not give up when he was at his lowest; instead, he decided to make a difference in this world and find meaning in his work. Turning negative experiences into a source of power is a beneficial skill, which I always try to do.
MacDonald, Michael Patrick. All Souls: A Family Story from Southie. Beacon Press, 2010.