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Edgewater Angels: A Novel Paperback – August 13, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Toomer, the precocious narrator of this likable first novel, is a young adolescent in the San Pedro section of L.A., where gang violence is a given, absentee fathers are preferred to the live-in kind who get "so so mad" and futures are bleak. The sense of community is strong, however; as the novel begins, gang warfare has ceased so the neighborhood can present a unified front to the LAPD, or "rollers." Toomer narrates in the first-person plural, speaking for a generation of ghetto kids who have cobbled together a community based on something other than violence. Meallet, who grew up in San Pedro, reproduces the infectious slang of southern California youth, characterized by the invention of amalgamated adjectives: "a you-guys-are-sorry gigglesound." His prose is swift-paced and conversational, but the series of disjunctive subplots the wonder of a first car, forays into petty crime, the revelation of sexual secrets by a friend's father, a fantastical narrative about Toomer's own missing father disrupt the arc of the narrative, making this feel like a series of short stories forced into novel form. The book is a portrait of the artist as a young thug, and despite Toomer's communal voice, the escape from ghetto life (implied and made true by Meallet's own success) appears to be an individual one, based on Toomer's clandestine interest in classical music and secret forays to the local library. Nothing detracts from the punch of the ending, in which Toomer and his buddies give an anonymous homeless man a funeral and help a wounded woman give birth, acts of kindness giving truth to the anonymous man's dying words: "How wonderful you've become... like angels." Agent, Leigh Feldman. (On sale, July 17)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

However, in Meallet's semiautobiographical first novel, Sonny Toomer describes his experiences with a sense of humor and a warmth that entice the reader into the San Pedro, CA, slums. Nothing about Toomer's life is easy. By the time he is five, he knows about ducking bullets; a pick up football game becomes a confrontation between rival gangs; and a favor for a friend's stepfather results in a near-arrest by the police. The overriding theme here is the absence of male role models. Toomer has heard from his father only twice, and his mother is a beautiful, eccentric woman with a habit of choosing the wrong men, including one whose ideal of family togetherness includes murder. His uncles are stupid, violent petty criminals, and his friends' fathers are also violent, usually doing time or just released. Yet throughout, Toomer retains an innate sense of decency. What makes this novel particularly appealing is the unique narrative voice, which combines words to create a vivid new descriptive language as attractive as the narrator himself. Highly recommended for public libraries. Andrea Caron Kempf, Johnson Cty. Community Coll. Lib., Overland Park, KS
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (August 13, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 037572561X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375725616
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,377,147 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on August 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I read this book because the author is a friend of a friend, etc. In such cases I usually expect to be impressed, inspired to write my own stuff, heartened to know a published young writer with lots of potential. But to my surprise, I was immediately sucked into this book. The language is fresh and exciting, the characters and conflicts extremely believeable, but most importantly, the author has some great stories to tell. I have passed the book along to several friends who are now anxiously sucked in as I was a week ago. And I find myself running words together and inventing new ones in both writing and speech (in the style of the author, certainly not on account of a drinking problem). My only criticisms are that the prose is clunky in a few places (like, two times, so who cares?) and I was left at the end wanting a little more resolution, perhaps more a sense of how the many anecdotes hang together as a book. Neither is a major issue, though, and I expect any kinks in the author's execution to be long-since worked out by the time I get my paws on his next novel. I am looking forward to it.
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By Annie Rojes on September 17, 2001
Format: Hardcover
It starts off good then gets even more engrossing as you get to know Toomer better. I couldn't put it down and can't wait to meet the author at the local bookstore and coffee shop in San Pedro when he visits in November to find out how much is based on fact. The style is such that you really feel like Toomer is actually writing the story. The slang that he uses and problems that he comes up against are so real. It was sad to turn the page and get to the end.
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Format: Hardcover
When I was first assigned to read Edgewater Angels I was disappointed. I suspected the sole reason was because the author grew up in San Pedro (since I attend San Pedro High School). I slowly read this novel page by page, having an initial mindset that it would ultimately be boring and a complete waste of time. Although I feel like I cannot relate firsthand to the true stories and situations expressed in Edgewater Angels, I still enjoyed it for the most part. When reading this novel, I was able to get a different perspective of life in the projects of San Pedro. As I continued on with the story, I found I was no longer protected by the securities and comforts of the more wealthy parts of San Pedro. With each chapter, I would get mental pictures produced from the author's descriptive words. Although grotesque and primarily uncomfortable, the realistic atmosphere urged me to read further. The luxuries that surround me everyday didn't exist for Sunny Toomer. The support and parental guidance I receive constantly wasn't offered to this young man. Instead of a nonrealistic story that allowed me to escape the harsh realities of life, like plenty of other novels I have previously read, Edgewater Angles gave a dose of truth. It forced me to see a different side of life that wasn't buttered up with "happily ever after" endings or unrealistic stories. Sandro Meallet told the blunt truth about the kind of life many people have to go through everyday, which is the style of writing everyone should get a taste of.
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Format: Hardcover
Edgewater Angels appealed to me through the real context life's hardships. Moving ahead into the book I felt that I actually knew Toomer and who he was going to become. Growing up in Wilmington, the sister city of San Pedro, both towns are similar within the history and culture of the people of the port. Attending school in San Pedro all my life, I consider it a second home. To finally experience such neighborhoods of the city placed a new outlook and respect for the underprivileged communities. I began to understand the daily struggle of a boy who accepted his place in society. The novel reveals how a poverty stricken child grows up to be a man. Even though he has experienced a world of violence and difficult situations, a collection of truths are exposed. Meallet illustrates the veracity in life from a-not-so-perfect family, childhood friends, and the birth of a child. The short stories are written as if you were almost experiencing it with him. The dialect and use of slang made me want to read it more aside from proper grammar books. Reading this book has given me a reality check in the suburb surroundings of San Pedro. Overall, Edgewater Angels is a real story and a one of a kind novel.
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Format: Hardcover
I was very excited to read Edgewater Angels because I enjoy reading fiction novels that relate to kids my age. I was also excited because the story took place in Pedro. I recommend Edgewater Angels to all high school students because it will give them a chance to see how hard life was growing up in Pedro. Before I read this book, I really didn't care about what happens or goes on in Pedro. I just thought half of it was a very wealthy neighborhood where I attended school. Edgewater Angels made me see how hard life can be as a child growing up in a bad neighborhood. And it made me realize that my life compared to Sonny's isn't that hard. I now appreciate my surroundings more because now I see how it is to not have them.
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Format: Hardcover
I happen to read a chapter of this book in an brochure from Doubleday and decided to test my interest in novels about minorities and gangs (I'm intially from small town midwest). Wow, what a blast of truth and a fresh new realization about everday life in south central Los Angeles. Toomer, narrator and main character, lives a life and experiences things everyday that most people could never deal with. I never expected a book that deals with all the bad things about inner city life to focus on the little bits of happiness and joy that its inhabitants find and turn those bits into something much bigger and more meaningful. I laughed, cried, and did not want the book to end.
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