Friday, July 06, 2012

Gypsy Boy by Mikey Walsh


I have never known much about the gypsy culture except what everybody knows -- colorful caravans, wild ways, untrustworthy, scammers, curses, etc.  There was a gypsy lady who had a fortune telling business in her home at the end of our block.  She walked by our house one day and waved at my mother -- a gesture my  mother chose to ignore -- and the next day our house burned down.  The gypsy didn't have anything to do with it -- a leaky hot water heater was the culprit -- but to my superstitious mother, we had been cursed.  I almost hit the same lady with the car a few years later -- nothing happened.  Maybe she like me?? I don't believe in curses.  In any event, I was surprised when I moved to the Fort Worth area to learn that we have a sizable gypsy (Irish Traveler) community here.  We learned about it when the much publicized story of Madelyn Toogood viciously whipping her child in a parking lot in South Carolina came out. Yep, she is part of Ft. Worth's gypsy community. During that same time period a group of under aged Traveler boys were out joy riding in cars, had a wreck and several were killed.  It was then that I started doing a little reading about Irish Travelers, especially in our area but it was a short lived interest and fell by the way until reality TV gave us Our Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and the American version which isn't nearly as good.

One day, while in my favorite Barnes and Noble, I ran across this book by Mikey Walsh.  I bought it thinking it was going to be the humorous, male version of the tv shows I faithfully DVR so I never miss an episode.  Well, I was wrong.  The book is well written and compelling.  It isn't a long read but it is the most painful book I have ever actually completed.  Most anything I pick up that involves violence toward helpless children either never comes into my possession or is ditched immediately upon discovery of the subject matter.  I had a big problem with VC Andrews books for that same reason.

In any event, I had to finish it to make sure that Mikey came out of it ok.  Spoiler here, he did, but this little boy had such a horrific life that I am completely shocked and baffled as to how he survived, much less flourished.  But, he did.

If you don't get squeamish about pure evil being projected onto small children, then I would recommend this book if you really want to know what life in the Romany world can be like.  It isn't like what is portrayed on tv.  I am not saying that all Romany or Travelers are like this, I am sure they aren't, but one is enough and it is vividly portrayed here.

The book is permanently in my library but I doubt I will be reading it again.  Once is, indeed, enough.