born-mobster-coverSeven-year-old Tony Bruno is an outcast among his peers. Bullied by his classmates and rejected by his father, Tony is lonely and desperate. Tired of being bullied, Tony strikes back. In one act of blind courage, he shifts the balance of power.

When Tony becomes a teenager, a new kid named Salvatore Morano transfers to his school and becomes the object of ridicule. Tony feels compelled to help the new kid. He has no idea who Salvatore is and what it means to be his friend.

Soon Tony is sought out by Salvatore’s father, Johnny Morano, the godfather of the Philadelphia Mafia, to help protect his son. Tony, who has admired the Italian mob from a distance, has always been fascinated by the Mafia’s power. He quickly learns that with power comes sacrifice. Tony will be forced to draw upon strength from deep within to survive his new, unwanted life. From the dark corners of his new world, Tony is driven to emerge from the fires of hell to find happiness.

Born Mobster is a haunting story of one bullied child who is deprived of love and taunted by corrupt individuals along his journey. Follow Tony through his rite of passage and experience the brutalities, murders, love, and honor that finally force Tony to become the man he was born to be.

Author: Paige Dearth
Genre: Horror, Mystery & Thriller
Number of Pages: 506
Purchase onAmazon

Hernández Novels Score: 5/5

Before I tell you about Born Mobster, I have to thank Jill @ Rant and Rave About Books for introducing me to NetGalley, an incredible website geared to promote and publicize titles to readers of influence (reviewers, bloggers, journalists, etc.). After signing up as a blogger/reviewer, I was able to request free Kindle copies of selected titles, and the first one I was excited about was Born Mobster. Thanks Jill!

Born Mobster is definitely a book that will crawl up and into your skin, and stay there. Every few pages I would ask myself “Why am I still reading this!?” and yet I could not stop. Paige Dearth leaves nothing to the imagination, and she writes from a very dark, realistic and twisted perspective. The book requires triggers for domestic violence, rape, torture, child sexual abuse, among other difficult topics. This is definitely not a book for those that cannot read such horrific content. Through it all, however, I could not put the book down. Tony Bruno, our main character, is both a villain and a hero in so many ways, and I found myself rooting for him the entire time. Once I was hooked, I needed to know he would be okay.

Paige first introduces us to Tony as a young boy growing up in an abusive, dangerous home in a poor neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is constantly bullied at school and nobody wants to be around him. I was immediately captured from the beginning, because Paige does a fantastic job at describing the raw emotion the characters feel in a way that forces you to feel them too. I felt Tony’s pain so deeply, and I immediately cared for him. As we see Tony grow up, and continue to be neglected by his mother, physically abused by his father, and tortured by his classmates, it’s hard not to cheer for him. Eventually Tony makes friends, gets involved with the wrong people, and ends up in Juvenile Detention. Paige is so good at leading the readers straight into a wall without them even noticing it. It wasn’t until I was fully immersed in Tony’s experiences in prison that I fully grasped the depth of the darkness and horror the author was willing to push me to. I imagine this is also the point most people wish they could stop reading the story, but it’s too late. You already love Tony.

Tony is a boy who was dealt a terrible hand and he had to figure out life for himself. Not only does he deal with the torment that is his life as a child, but at the age of thirteen he finds himself thrown out on the streets to fend for himself. It would be stupid to assume he would remain golden throughout his entire story. Tony does things, bad things, things I wish he hadn’t done. But he has to, and as the audience we are forced to negotiate the parts within ourselves that disagree with what he does at the expense of his need to find love, family, security, and shelter. This is simply not the kind of book you can read in one sitting. There were times when I had to stop reading and take some time away to really come to terms with my feelings. I was so captivated by, and invested in, Tony’s life that his heartache was my heartache. I am most definitely an emotional, sensitive person and this book pulled all of my heart strings. I suggest you keep tissues nearby if you are as well.

What I really liked about the book:
Born Mobster is so raw that it forces the audience to come face to face with the insanity of the real world. There is no hand-holding. You are thrust head first into the depths of despair and you have to find a way to claw out of it. I appreciated the realities of the “horror” book I found myself reading.
– I also absolutely loved that Paige wrote in the accents for the characters, as Tony, his family, and friends are mostly Italian. I could hear their voices, accents included, inside my head. It made everything so much more believable.
– Though we start with Tony at age 7, we see him fully develop as a young man a full decade later.

What I really didn’t like about the book:
– My only issue was that, at times, I would stop reading simply to roll my eyes about the dialogue. There were multiple times when I would turn to look at no one sitting beside me, while reading, to complain to empty space about how absurd a line in dialogue was. How is it that one of the most feared men in Philadelphia, the big bad wolf of the Mafia, who is being a complete asshole one second can all of a sudden say something completely sweet, corny, and stupid? This happened a few times. Paige does such an outstanding job at fleshing out each character that I felt like I knew the characters enough to know that they wouldn’t say such a thing. It really did bother me, especially during intense scenes when I was so invested that the corny and fake dialogue took me out of my fantasy.

At the end of the day, I strongly recommend this book. You’ll go on the wildest rollercoaster of your life and, when you’re done and you’ve dried all your tears and your stomach has settled, you’ll feel a strange sense of empowerment. At least that’s what I learned from Tony Bruno. One warning, though, you are not prepared for the ending. You cannot prepare for this kind of ending. Paige is so good at pulling the ground from under your feet, and she does it so brilliantly and she just sneaks up on you the moment you feel safe.

Paige, I am fully expecting a follow up story. I need to know what happens next. Please and thank you.

Does Born Mobster sound like something you want to read? Why or why not? Leave your thoughts, comments, questions, and suggestions below!

Still desperately invested in Tony Bruno’s life,