This is a devastating novel of a place, and an era -- the Bronx, 1960s -- and a young man's coming-of-age among horrifying violence. Ricky Davis, facing his Bar Mitzvah, has a crush on a Catholic girl in his building. His father, a dress cutter and part-time bookie, owes money to a local mobster, and one mistake after another leads to the family spiraling into real danger.Ricky wants, of course, to make things better. He loves -- and fears -- his passionate, beautiful parents, a striking couple meant for better things, perhaps, but caught by real life. He tries to figure out how to make enough money to pay off his family's debt to the mobster so his parents can be happy again. He's encouraged by his rabbi to meditate on what it is to become a man, but Ricky faces challenges most adults don't have to grapple with. Goldstein's writing is brisk, evocative; I raced through this book -- cringing, at times, because of the violence featured or sexual experiences of young Ricky (neither of which are gratuitous, and feel appropriate to the story) -- because I wanted to know how the Davis' would survive. At the heart of this book is family, and despite their dysfunction, Goldstein made me love them.