Top positive review
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"For the first time I had tried to open a lock, and I had failed."
on January 5, 2010
Hamilton structures a quirky and innovative thriller around a young safecracker- or boxman- who has not spoken a word since a traumatic incident in his childhood. Raised in a rundown part of Michigan, Michael, named by the press "The Miracle Boy", finds amusement in opening locks he buys in a neighborhood antique shop. Indulging his love of drawing or spinning the chambers of the locks, Michael develops a unique skill that will prove invaluable to men who seek to exploit his talent. As Michael tells his story in chapters that alternate between the conflicts of the present and his past, from the days with comic books, drawing pads and Uncle Lido to a stint on probation, circumstances conspire to send the youth on a troubled road. Michael doesn't confide the exact nature of the tragedy that caused him to stop speaking, a fact that contributes to the mystery of his character, a young man who walks a solitary path, making the few choices available to him. And when fate delivers Amelia into his life, Michael senses his one chance at intimacy with another, a vague but promising future.
Hamilton sets his protagonist among the criminal element that exists in the underbelly of every city, the boy a talented boxman who does each job required with professional detachment and no worry of turning on his partners in crime. Considering his background and environment, Michael is a moral, conscientious young man caught in a world not of his making but requiring innate intelligence to survive. Part love story, part thriller, Michael flirts with the wrong side of the law, but only because he has no options. Hamilton builds Michael's predicament like a fortress against freedom, the opportunities for flight few and dangerous. Honor binds Michael to his illegal commitments and a concern for Amelia, trapped in the world of her father's mistakes, a thwarted Romeo and Juliet. Traveling with fast company, Michael learns quickly that there is no honor among thieves. He may be confined by circumstances, but never succumbs to a doomed future.
Shifting between the traumatic events of the past and the challenges of the present, Hamilton reveals the effects of trauma and poverty on an innocent child, a child who is not only a survivor but a young man of exceptional courage. There are no happy endings in this tale, but an example of the human spirit in the face of adversity and the healing power of love, even in the most extreme circumstances. Shocking, poignant and provocative, this unusual story is a blend of reality and hope in an indifferent world. Luan Gaines/2010.