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Dirty Little Angels Paperback – March 1, 2009

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Editorial Reviews


If I had a dollar for every sentence in Dirty Little Angels that blew my mind, I'd be able to buy a decent Chevy Nova outright. Christopher Tusa is a new and powerful voice in American fiction, and I truly believe that this raw and poetic first novel marks the beginning of a great and glorious career. --Donald Ray Pollock, author of Knockemstiff

"Dirty Little Angels is the To Kill a Mockingbird of 2009. Chris Tusa's novel marks the debut of a brave new voice in contemporary American literature." --Burl Barer, Edgar Award winning author of The Saint, Mom Said Kill, Body Count, Murder in the Family


Listen up, folks: Chris Tusa has written a nasty little novel that somehow lifts close to grace its downtrodden and sometimes blackhearted inhabitants. They're fallen and broken, but like the New Orleans through which they stagger and flail, they are lovely ruins-and like New Orleans they are only one storm away from the End Times. Witness the storm, as told by Tusa: Dirty Little Angels.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 147 pages
  • Publisher: Livingston Press (AL) (March 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604890304
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604890303
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (226 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,477,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Tusa was born and raised in New Orleans. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, The New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Passages North, Spoon River, New York Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Tar River, StorySouth, and others. He has studied under a number of notable writers, including Tim Gautreaux, Sidney Wade, and Debora Gregor. With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first chapbook of poetry, Inventing an End. His debut collection of poems, Haunted Bones, was published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2006. His debut novel, Dirty Little Angels, will be released by The University of West Alabama this April. He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. Aside from teaching in the English Department at LSU, he also acts as Managing Editor for Poetry Southeast.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. L VINE VOICE on January 26, 2010
Format: Paperback
Dirty Little Angels by Chris Tusa is not an ordinary novel, it is gritty and sends many messages to the reader. The story is told from the view point of a young girl in the American South. We have Hailey Trosclair, raised by a father who is burdened with unemployment and a mother who is too preoccupied with being miserable. Hailey is forced to endure real life lessons outside of the house- things as mundane as death and shallow as popularity.

Tusa's writing style is magnificent. It is confrontational and the metaphors are haunting. (After my Kindle charges I will have to come back and include some!) The characters will try to justify their actions, both good and bad, through God. I found myself constantly saying, "No! Don't do that!" and wishing that someone would take the narrator away from everything she had to deal with. I can't relate to the characters, they're needy and selfish. That being said, I still enjoyed them and their sad realities.

Talk about a dysfunctional family. Mom? Depressed. Dad? Alcoholic. Brother? Trouble maker. Geesh, where does that leave Hailey? No wonder she is engrossed with herself. Let me just say that this book really made me thankful for the environment I grew up in.

Some have compared this novel to classics such as "To Kill a Mocking Bird." I totally don't think this will be a classic by any means, but the author does tell a compelling story. I just wish he would have given his story more time- it's a little under 200 pages. This isn't a book I will be quick to forget. If you're looking for a happy ending, don't pick up this book... otherwise, go for it. It's a quick, solid read that will take you on one helluva ride.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Deb N. on December 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
I read this book with a bit of trepidation. From the description I was intrigued by the characters, but I had a feeling the story would not have a happy ending. As soon as I was done reading the book I thought to myself; "Well, I knew it wouldn't be pretty, I don't know why I read it". As I sat there pondering what I had just read, I realized how much I had come to care about the main character, a teen named Hailey. The author did a great job of drawing the reader into her life and into the thought processes going on in her head. I was drawn into her life through the first person telling of the story. Even though Hailey is fictional teen she represents many teens all over the country that have been basically forgotten in life's struggles. Families have difficulties, circumstances jack you around, and unless you want to always be a victim, you need to take your destiny into your own hands. This is what Hailey did at the end of the story.
While her choices of how to take control of her life may have been unusual, she finally understood she had to make those choices on her own. In spite of the sad circumstances and choices she may have made, she was finally taking what little control of her life that she could. In that respect I liked the ending, because she made that decision and acted on it, even though it was in a different way than you would have guessed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Chels on June 17, 2011
Format: Paperback
Good Reads Summary:
Set in the slums of New Orleans, among clusters of crack houses and abandoned buildings, Dirty Little Angels is the story of sixteen year old Hailey Trosclair. When the Trosclair family suffers a string of financial hardships and a miscarriage, Hailey finds herself looking to God to save her family. When her prayers go unanswered, Hailey puts her faith in Moses Watkins, a failed preacher and ex-con. Fascinated by Moses' lopsided view of religion, Hailey, and her brother Cyrus, begin spending time down at an abandoned bank that Moses plans to convert into a drive-through church. Gradually, though, Moses' twisted religious beliefs become increasingly more violent, and Hailey and Cyrus soon find themselves trapped in a world of danger and fear from which there may be no escape.

The author really captures the young adult mind-set and feeling in this novel. The novel is very "dark", even depressing; however, the author means to represent a certain reality in many societies. The reader will have to restrain her/himself throughout the book from wanting to shake the characters and tell them what to do, however, this is likely the author's intention. A good author evokes a response in the reader, a quality Tusa has down pat. Hailey makes for a good protagonist, definitely eliciting sympathy in the reader. Her brother is arrested at least three times for stealing, yet doesn't attempt to change his lifestyle and doesn't consider Hailey at all. Hailey's mother is no role-model and constantly depressed; Hailey is surrounded by drinking, fights, drugs, etc... The author's writing style kept the reader interested throughout the majority of the book, some of his words and/or phrases were a tad redundant in areas, but otherwise good.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Hira N. Hasnain on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Chris Tusa's "Dirty Little Angels" is not for the faint of heart. It is a gritty and raw novel, depicting life in the inner city. Tusa presents a stark perspective, real in its portrayal, and never sugar-coated. This is the quality that makes Tusa's novel worth a read. Although, it doesn't hurt the book any to have wonderful characterization and an interesting plot, either.

Our protagonist is 16 year old Hailey Trosclair, a teenager who has seen her share of misery in her short life. Hailey narrates the plot, and introduces us to her family. There's the father, a selfish, unfaithful, selfish man who also happens to be an alcoholic - he is responsible for the family's financial ruin. Then there is the mother, wallowing in her misery after a miscarriage, and leaving her kids to grieve in a wholly different manner. The older brother, who is protective and life's realities have turned him tough. There is the witty, comic-relief of a friend in Verma. And finally, there's Moses - Moses Watkins, a man who Hailey comes to trust and puts her faith in. All Moses is concerned about, though, is starting a "drive-thru" Church. It speaks to the awful psychological condition of our friend Hailey, that the man she has faith in, happens to be a man who is a religious con-artist.

If you're looking for fluff to read, this book is not for you. If you're looking for a wonderfully written novel, with characters that are perfect in their imperfections, hauntingly real and beautiful - than this might be the book to pick up. The story is interesting, the character's perspectives are presented in a unique manner, the author's voice is strong and clear in presenting its point and he makes some great usage of metaphors that had me clamoring to write them down somewhere.
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