Dirty Little Angels

Reading Chris Tusa’s Dirty Little Angels is like delving into a story by Flannery O’ Connor–the characters are flawed and corrupt, their world is rotten with moral decay, and they are looking for God in all the wrong places.

Hailey, a tenth-grader with more to worry about than math tests, is caught in the midst of her family’s decline. Depression grips them all and there is nothing to be done about it. Her mother’s miscarriage, her father’s unemployment, and her brother’s delinquencies only add to Hailey’s sense that everything is falling apart, making the roaches buzzing in her head shred her mind to bits.

Looking for answers, Hailey finds her brother’s friend, Moses Watkins, an ex-con who wants to hand drive-thru salvation to the good people of New Orleans.

The story is gritty and dark. It’s not what I usually read, but I was intrigued by the summary when Mr. Tusa asked me to review the novel. I had read a few reviews that noted the frequent use of metaphors in the story; it can be distracting at times, but at times it adds to the reader’s understanding of Hailey’s confusion (the state of her decaying sense of self).

I would recommend it to someone interested in fiction about life’s hard knocks. I would not classify Dirty Little Angels as Street Lit, but it might also appeal to someone interested in this genre.

As I said, it is a dark novel–there is violence, poverty, and self-destruction. It can be hard to read and the characters are often hateful, making it hard to sympathize with their plight, but they are realistic in their flawed, emotionally impoverished state.