Johnny Boy: A Novel

JOHNNY CARUSO IS BORN into the urban turmoil of 1950s and ’60s working-class Brooklyn. Wedged between the limited worldview of his parents—alcoholic and abusive Bellisario and browbeaten, unstable Maria—and his liberal-minded older brother and sister, young Johnny struggles to navigate his childhood and adolescence.

Overwhelmed by his family’s thorny dynamics and seeing no path forward, Johnny finds himself in a downward spiral, getting into fights, cheating on exams, and shoplifting with friends. Prospects for a stable and happy future appear bleak until Johnny is offered an opportunity that could alter the course of his life.

JOHNNY BOY captures the ethnic values, cultural texture, and historical events of mid-twentieth-century Brooklyn. Its story, both highly specific and universally familiar, explores external chaos and the inner turmoil of a young protagonist who possesses intelligence, perseverance, and an unwavering sense of humanity.

Told with honesty and passion, JOHNNY BOY is immersive and timeless, an authentic flesh-and-bones coming-of-age story infused with a cinematic megadose of twenty-first century realism.

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John Califano