The Edge of Lost is the newest offering from historical fiction writer Kristina McMorris. Eleven year old Shanley Keagan knows there is more to life than the alleyways of Dublin and telling jokes in smoky bars just to earn a meal for himself and his drunkard uncle. It is Shan’s dream to go to America where he hopes to find his biological father, an American sailor who doesn’t even know of Shan’s existence. When Shan and Uncle Will find they are no longer welcome in their own country, Uncle Will agrees to provide the boy with hope for a better life and they set off for America. Just as they arrive in New York Harbor, Uncle Will dies, leaving his nephew orphaned and faced with deportation back to Ireland. But Shan is quick witted and finds friends in an Italian family returning to the U.S. who claim him as their own. Thus begins Shanley Keagan’s life as Tommy Capello – the deceased son of the Italian famly. The story follows Shan as he grows into manhood and tests the bonds of his new-found family. All thoughts of finding his biological father eventually are replaced by daily life and keeping out of trouble. But when the bonds of brotherhood get tangled, Tommy (Shan) is sent to prison for a crime he didn’t commit.
The Edge of Lost is a story of survival, despair, hope, and second chances at life. The descriptions are rich and detailed and the reader can identify with the hopelessness that Shan feels on many occasions. The chapters surrounding his time in Leavenworth and Alcatraz are well researched. There were times when Shan/Tommy sheds his hard veneer and becomes once again the sweet impressionable youth but these short spells don’t last long as he has learned, many times over, that to survive one must always think of oneself first. In the end, Tommy/Shan is redeemed but I won’t give away how this happens except to say that sometimes a person gets the chance to start life over. Another winner from Kristin McMorris.
Rating: M M M M M