Today Marshmallow reviews The Prince of Steel Pier by Stacy Nockowitz, published just this past week.
The book bunnies received this book as a review copy.
Marshmallow’s Quick Take: If you like realistic fiction books about family and growing up into one’s own, then this might be the book for you.
Marshmallow’s Summary (with Spoilers): The year is 1975. Thirteen-year-old Joey Goodman is staying at his grandparents’ hotel, the St. Bonaventure, for the summer. The hotel, located by an Atlantic City boardwalk, is struggling to keep business.
Joey has a very large and busy Jewish family, and he feels often ignored or not taken seriously by them. He goes to the boardwalk sometimes to pass the time, and one of these times, he runs into some mobsters. Unfortunately, Joey doesn’t know or want to know that they are mobsters because he quickly becomes “one of the guys”.
The mobsters are led by a man named Artie Bishop, who Joey begins to view almost as a father. Becoming “one of the guys” makes Joey feel strong and valued, because at the hotel he feels that everyone thinks he is weak and scared. Additionally, they pay him well, first for being able to play Skee-Ball very well, and then later for chaperoning Artie Bishop’s almost sixteen year old daughter (Melanie) around the boardwalk. (Joey falls in love with her, despite their age difference and the fact that Melanie probably doesn’t view him in that way.)
Eventually, however, Artie learns that Joey’s family runs the St. Bonaventura, and he asks for a favor. Even in the beginning, hanging out with the “guys” meant that Joey had to conceal the truth from his family. Now Artie asks him to put a package in the hotel in a room no one ever looks at. But when the package disappears, Joey starts to see how bad the mobsters can get. He must find out what true strength means to him and whether might would triumph over right.
Marshmallow’s Review: I thought that The Prince of Steel Pier was an interesting book because it was set in a different time period from our own and the author made it feel believable. 1975 is a long time ago for little bunnies today, but when you read The Prince of Steel Pier, you see that growing up is always the same. You want to feel important and respected, but you also are still young and you can make a lot of mistakes and you need your family.
The story is narrated from Joey’s point of view, in first person and mostly in the present tense. The present tense made the story feel like it was happening just now and I was reading along. And the first person narration made me feel like I could understand Joey a lot better. I found it very interesting to read about his problems inside and out. Joey has a queasy stomach when he gets nervous or anxious, and that was a unique aspect of the character, but it also reminded me a bit of Raina Telgemeier’s Guts, which I have recently reviewed.
While reading, I kept wondering how the author would wrap things up; without spoiling things too much, I can say that, at the end, I was very happy about how she did it.
Marshmallow’s Rating: 95%.