There are not many books that can affect a modern human being in this strange disillusioned world. Why? Because we are showered with extreme images from all over the world which are broadcasted in intent to make everything so realistic as possible, and since books are stale, damp and too static. They can’t compete with the TV when it comes to describing misery and pain.
Well, at least that’s what I thought until I found this book.When Lorenzo Carcatterra, Michael Sullivan, John Reilly and Tommy Marcano were kids they were living in Hell’s Kitchen, New Yorks violent west side. They were acting just like every other kid at that age, having fun and making pranks that could lift their attention away from the harsh conditions that surrounded them. One day one of their pranks accidentally killed an innocent man. They were sent away to Wilkinson Reformatory School. Twelve months of systematic mental, physical and sexual abuse changed them forever.
Several years later John and Tommy bump into Nokes, the head guard who was the most persistent in abusing the children among the guards, in a bar where they kill him. This leads to a trial where Michael Sullivan is a prosecutor. Michael sees his chance to both free his friends and to take bring the abusers to justice, and hunt down all of the guards that molested them. These events lead to a reunion where all of the old friends from Hell’s Kitchen gather, John, Tommy, Michael and Lorenzo. In the end they reach their goals with the aid of Father Robert Corillo, who commits perjury when he lies under oath for the benefit of John and Tommy.
Nearly a year after the book was published (1996), a movie was released. The movie featured high-class actors such as Robert De Niro and Brad Pitt. The movie was very emotional and strong. It was recognised as an extraordinary movie and it belongs in any distinguished movie-collection. The similarities between the book and the movie are plentiful (mostly due to Carcatteras involvement in the movie) and the differences are few. The book contains shortstories about their childhood (mostly in the beginning and one in the end) which the movie don’t. The movie and the book have different qualities since they have different ways of creating an atmosphere. You can for example read a book whenever you want and you can put it away whenever you want to. The experience in a book is more time-consuming, but at the same time it gives you some time to recollect your thought. Nonetheless it’s a fact that the movie is a piece of history, and that it gives far more people to experience Carcattera’s work.
Only one thing bothered me about the book. This book is as you already might have guessed based on a true story with only some names changed for the protection of their privacy and integrity. If Lorenzo Carcattera actually helped his friends to deceive the court and even though I feel very little sympathy for Nokes, he actually was killed by John and Tommy with the help of Lorenzo, then why did he publish this book and why hasn’t he been charged? The only explanation I can think of is that the crime was declared statue-barred.