A nostalgic and moving memoir of growing up as an Irish American in the tradition of Angela's Ashes. Dennis Smith takes the reader on a journey to his youth as a tenement kid in the East 40's and the East River where he competes with his older brother for attention. His family is dirt poor and only held together by the mother, Mary, who is determined to see her two sons tread the path to success. their father is absent in an accident and he must stay in hospital. Denis finds this puzzling but doesn't question his mother. By his early teens however, Denis has rebelled against all forms of authority and turns increasingly to drugs, alcohol and hooliganism. Just as it seems his life is about to spin out of control his mother reveals the truth of his father's circumstances and the moment provides a symbolic end to Denis' childhood, pointing him in the direction of adulthood.