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Green Grass Grace

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  350 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Henry "Hank" Toohey, a thirteen-year-old altar boy, is an incessant smart-ass with a deep love of life...and other four-letter words. But with his foul mouth comes a heart of gold, and he's going to need it to get through the last weekend of summer 1984.
Everyone up and down St. Patrick Street, Henry's claustrophobic Irish-Catholic block in Philadelphia -- with its sevent
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 4th 2003 by Touchstone (first published 2003)
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Finished Green Grass Grace and now even know the secret behind the title, which I liked. There is no doubt that Shawn McBride can write, but think at times he lost himself, and the plot as well, in his rambling asides. I did not mind the bawdy language, or his mockery of Catholicism, but he overplayed it on grand scale, and I am not sure any 13-year old, anywhere in the world of life or fiction is as obsessed with breasts as was Henry. A little bit would have been fine, but once again, after a w ...more
If you love quirky, coming-of-age stories READ THIS!! Sort of like 16 Candles or Pretty In Pink from a blue collar boys perspective.

Set in the early 80's, it's about Henry, a hair (and boob) obsessed teen and his family and friends.

It's hilarious, touching, hard hitting, tear inducing (both from laughter and it's poignancy) and FABULOUS!!

I will say there is lot of bad language, F-Bombs all over the place, but I think it fits Henry and the cast of characters so perfectly...think tough teens tryin
Simultaneously heart-warming and heart-wrenching, a difficult line to walk.
I re-read this book in October 2009, having first read it in April 2003 (and went into labor with my daughter a few hours after finishing it). It's therefore sentimental to me, and written by a college friend! He is a trip, and he recently signed the book for me. I can't recommend this book to everyone because it is definitely out there. It's from the perspective of a 13-year-old hormonal boy growing up in Philly and therefore has some interesting themes! But it is funny and sweet at the same ti ...more
Larry Berthold
loved it on initial read about 7-8 years ago...loving it in some different ways on this re-read...still unique in voice and cadence...but fully recognizable to those 'privileged' to be brought along on the streets of NE Philly. funny, bawdy, warm, laced w the weird way that families and friends interact in the life of a preternaturally brilliant 13yo...
I really enjoyed this read. It reminded a bit of the Wonder Years meets the Outsiders. It's not often I read a book written from the perspective of a 13 year old boy from Philadelphia. It took the first couple of chapters for me to really fall into the story, but once I did I couldn't put the book down.
My favorite book set in Philadelphia! Set in 1980's Bridesburg and narrated by a potty-mouth 13-year-old, this book is a loving homage to adolescence, northeast Philadelphia, and growing up working class.
I think you have to grow up in Northeast Philly to really like this book. That area being quite possibly my least favorite place to be, I went into this book a bit biased.
Apr 23, 2009 Jennifer rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone with a sense of humor
Recommended to Jennifer by: Michael Duncan
Even though I thought the last few chapters went by too quickly and also catered to the usual "something really bad has to happen for people to get their s*** together" I'm still giving this book 5 stars because it kept me entertained and intrigued (and a bit nostalgic even though I'm not a baseball fan). Once you meet Henry Tobias Toohey you want to follow him everywhere he goes.

McBride did a great job of reaching back to the early 1980s and getting into the adolescent mind frame. Especially w
My Amazon review: Although set in Philadelphia in the 1980's Shawn McBride has fostered an authentic feel for neighborhood life and politics in just about any city in the United States. While there are obvious details that make it Phila to those who know it, an outsider will not be in the dark if they haven't visited Tack Park or seen a 76ers game. The voice of 13-year-old Henry Toohey is brash and fresh and although female readers may have difficulty discerning if Henry's voice rings true (do 1 ...more
Yo! If you're from Philly and a product of the '80's, ya gotta read this book! What a fun read. I'll be talking about this one for a while. I just happened to stumble upon this author and I'm so glad I did. This novel would make a great movie. Richard Russo (author of Empire Falls) is quoted on the back cover as saying: "The last time I had this much fun in the company of an adolescent was when Ferris Bueller took a day off. Shawn McBride is a hoot and a half" I think that sums it up perfectly.
Green Grass Grace pops vibrant & neon distinct --- its pages clamoring with life's hard truths and small triumphs. In Hank Toohey --- the novel's protagonist --- McBride captures with obscene clarity the inner workings of the adolescent male. Green Grass Grace, however, is not a one-dimensional recapitulation of hormone-induced bravado and potty humor (though at one point a character is beat up with a bag of dog poop) --- rather it amplifies and explores those instants in which youth's earne ...more
I am addicted to eighties coming-of-age stories. This one wasn't great but I still loved it a lot.
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Hilarious narrator
Kid growing up in Philly in the 80's- had potential, but just didn't do much for me.
If there was half stars i would give this book 2 1/2 stars. It took about half way through this book for me to really enjoy it, but once I did I enjoyed immensely. I loved the way he wrote about the relationships between the kids even with all the cussing and talking about boobs (tits). It seems kind of silly but as a tomboy who hung out with boys much of her life, boys are like that. And I loved the neighborhood and as disfunctional as most of them were I wished I had grown up in such a tight k ...more
Jul 13, 2007 Stephanie rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who needs a taste of Philly
It's simple and sweet. It's fun and sad. The writing style is nothing to marvel at, though he does try. At times I felt a little condescended to in terms of how he choose to portray characterization, but overall I thoroughly enjoyed a day or two in the life of the these amazing kids. It reaffirmed my stance on life: Grown-ups and all their problems suck, Imagination rules, and falling in love might be the most painfully delicious thing on earth.
I appreciated the way the author prefesented the high drama and tragic happenings of St. Patricks Street, Philadephia, through the voice of a 13-year old boy. This book is one big ball of hope, and even though the narrator curses like a sailor and has a million ways to talk about tits, he doesn't recognize a vibrtor when he sees it (or even know what it is). This innocence is both authentic and disarming.

Thank you to SG for this book.
I found this book very enjoyable to read. One thing I will say is that this book is impossible to skim. The writing style almost forces you to read every single word, but it is worth it. I will say that some of the scenarios and dialog are a little to unrealistic and that is why I wouldn't give it 5 stars, but it is otherwise entertaining. Don't read this book if you can't stand cursing.
Paul Anderson
May 18, 2007 Paul Anderson rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any fan of the hilarity of the mundane.
Shelves: greatbooks
Actually, I learned little from this book, aside from the fact that a lot of what we have in our lives we naturally take for granted. Human nature is lacking contentment. This book is quite simply written, but entertaining, and quite funny, and has some magical way of making the reader look at himself and realize that it was, in some way, written about him.
May 04, 2012 Amanda rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: own
This was a pretty good book. I would rate it a 3.5 but thats alright. The story line drags in the beginning I am not going to lie but it definitely picks up I found myself laughing out loud a lot. You really feel for the characters especially Henry. He truly cares about his family and pulling them back to reality.
May 02, 2008 Michael rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone from Philly :-)
Yo!..Friggin great book! Im definitely bias...growing up in a very similar neighborhood. Philly is a town of neighborhoods and this could be any one. I really enjoyed Henry's sense of humor. My only problem was the use of the word "pop" one calls soda "pop" in Philly...its just soda..sorry
Audrey Kuhn
This book is so hilarious...I found myself cracking up in public. Although I am easily amused by crass swearing , especially coming from a 13-year old kid from Philly.

A sweet coming of age can border on cheese sometimes, but you care enough for the characters that you let it slide.
Justine Philyaw
A novel about growing up Catholic in Northeast Philly. It could be my memoir. Funny because of its honesty. Sad but not maudlin. Hopeful without being too cliche. Philadelphians will particularly enjoy some of the setting-specific humor- especially the opening line.
This should get 3.5 stars, really. The underlying story had great heart, but I felt often the author was trying too hard to express the adolescent male mind. The descriptions of female anatomy (and Henry's reaction) got tiresome and distracted me from the narrative.
Liz Miele
I became myspace friends with the author and hes really into stand-up and super nice and i read his book last week and it was great. lots of fun. first person kid is 13 from Philly in 1984 just about his life. Witty, very boy natured (talk about boobs a lot) but enjoyable
This had it's fun moments and it's poignant moments. Not great, but fun. I imagine that if you are from Philadelphia where the book is set and come from an Irish family as does the main character and the author, you will enjoy it.
A fantastic story about a young boy coming of age in my favorite city, Philadelphia. One of the funniest books i have ever read by a writer that i would like to see more of. While also being one of the saddest.
Thomas Callahan
A funny and acurate view of a dysfunctional Philadelphia family. I thoroughly enjoyed this first novel and look forward to many more from this author.
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philly boy. unprolific author. father. fuckface.
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