Hello Mudder, Hello Fadder: The Psychological Insights of a Born Mobster
It took me almost a hundred pages to get used to Paige Dearth’s unique spellings of the South Philly dialect. I’m from Chicago where we speak a different variation on the South Philly cross between Irish and Italian. Dearth is obviously an auditory writer. I’m a visual reader. When words aren’t spelled the way I expect, I’m distracted from getting into the story. But Dearth’s great characterizations of Tony and Vincent kept me reading anyway.
Everyone has been bullied at one time or another in his or her life. We can all identify with Tony. Even Vincent and Carmen, Tony’s “fadder”, have been bullied. Tony Bruno, like so many of Paige Dearth’s characters in this novel and her previous novels, is trapped by his heredity and his environment. He feels helpless in a hopeless situation not of his own making. It is only when he says “enough” and begins to fight back, to take control of his life, that Tony has any chance of surviving.
Educational psychologists will tell you that humans tend to imitate behavior that is modeled: we—-both as impressionable children and as adults—-learn from the way we see others behave. Role models have great influence on us. We are products of our environments.
Characters constantly ask each other, “Are you okay? Is everything okay?” Ain’t nothin’ okay in Tony Bruno’s world. It’s a shithole. Shit happens. Period. End of sentence.
Bad things happen to good people all the time in this novel, and bad people get their share of shit dumped on them, too. Born Mobster is a gritty tale filled with graphic violence and four-letter profanity and explicit sexual situations. If it were made into a movie, it would rate a definite “R”. It’s not a story you want kids to read, though older teens might easily identify with Tony, Vincent, and Salvatore.
I give Born Mobster five stars for characterization and storyline. The quality of writing, especially dialog, is consistently four stars. Paige Death is still learning her craft. But she is a writer to watch, and this novel proves it.