Seeing-Eye Boy


“I can still hear Matt Coffey’s voice telling me his strategies for making lunch or owning up to his fears. Wise and wise-cracking, this book is about pride, bravery, loyalty, and love. When word gets out, parents will be sneaking this book off their kids’ shelves.” –novelist Mary Kay Zuravleff

“Seeing-Eye Boy is not just the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it was like being a smart and sensitive Irish-American adolescent in the Bronx of the 1950s — it’s the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it’s like being a smart and sensitive adolescent anywhere, anytime.” –writer Michael Lally

“When mythical Ireland jumped the big pond as a result of the potato famine and settled in the Bronx in New York City, magic and mystery inhabited brownstone buildings, hidden places behind billboards, and stoops beside stairs. In Terence Winch’s new novel, Seeing-Eye Boy, Winch manages to step dance Irish magic into prose and tell a story of courage, family, and the changing of Irish culture into American culture. Young adults are going get excited about this story, guaranteed.” –Thomas Davis, novelist and poet

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Seeing-Eye Boy, the first novel by poet and musician Terence Winch. winner of the American Book Award and Columbia Book Award, brings to life the Irish immigrant world of 20th-century urban America. The vivid and engrossing story of Matt Coffey, 12 years old going on 13, offers an inside look at a lost universe where two cultures, Irish and American, blended together in the new world. In the story it’s the fall of 1957, and Matt’s world is in turmoil. He’s acquired a new enemy named Bull Burke, has started taking care of a neighborhood blind man (who turns out to have been part of the resistance to the British during the Irish troubles in the old country) and his terrifying dog, and is feeling the stirrings of first love. On top of it all, now he has to contend with the threatened invasion of his block by the meanest gang in the Bronx, the dreaded Fordham Baldies. How he navigates his way through the minefield of early adolescence, and what he learns about love and life, are at the heart of Seeing-Eye Boy. The vivid narrative shows immigrant adults interacting with their first-generation sons and daughters, while Irish and rock music co-exist uncomfortably as the Irish become Irish Americans. Matt and his buddies take on gang members who use bicycle chains as weapons, as everybody dances around the efforts of Irish cops to keep the Bronx safe from violence. The thrilling climax involves water balloons, mysterious voices in Matt’s head, firecrackers, fierce friendships, a dramatic rescue, a horrifying accident, and the eerie sound of the bagpipes. As writer Michael Lally says, “Seeing-Eye Boy is the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it is like being a smart and sensitive adolescent anywhere, anytime.”


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