The Boys from the Hill – Book Review
The Boys from the Hill is a fast paced novel by Bernard Salmon, about a group of boys growing up in the famous Bronx area of New York in the late forties and early fifties. The story follows these young people from their early teens to young adults. The novel focuses on friends, Johnny and Tony, two of the boys, as they grow up running the streets taking part in fighting and gang violence until they eventually grow up and become “normal” young men.
From the opening pages, the pace of the story is fast and gripping. The reader is immediately rushed into the lives of two young Bronx kids as they run through the potholed streets and dirty alleys of one of New York’s most infamous boroughs. We find ourselves rushing through buildings, climbing narrow stairways and holding our breath with them as they wait for the police to give up the chase.
It is an exciting novel that takes the reader on a dizzying, twisted and tormented path through the streets and lives of troubled youth struggling to survive in a famously very tough neighborhood.
You find yourself alternating between being angry with these ruffians, then suffering with them and even cheering them on as they just try to survive being born into such an unforgiving atmosphere.
The author, Bernard Salmon, was born in the south Bronx and spent his first twenty-five years living in the Morrisania neighborhood, the tough, low income area of the southwest Bronx. His experience of the area comes out powerfully in language so descriptive the sounds and smells of the Bronx come to life in this very gripping and gritty vignette of the lives of two tough kids who make it, perhaps something like the author, himself.
This is a story that will keep you reading with anticipation from the first page to the last. The language and color of the story just draws you in, compelling you to run with these tough young protagonists, even when the harsh tragedy of their lives makes you want to scream.