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Easter Rising: An Irish American Coming Up from Under

3.75  ·  Rating Details ·  723 Ratings  ·  93 Reviews
A powerfully redemptive story of escape from the Irish American ghetto.

Michael Patrick MacDonald's All Souls: A Family Story from Southie told the story of the loss of four of his siblings to the violence, poverty, and gangsterism of Boston's Irish American ghetto. The question "How did you get out?" has haunted MacDonald ever since. In response he has written this new boo
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 27th 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskeyMystic River by Dennis LehaneThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret AtwoodJohnny Tremain by Esther ForbesConfidential Communications by J.R. Reardon
Boston Books
68th out of 210 books — 219 voters

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Bill  Kerwin
Jul 10, 2016 Bill Kerwin rated it liked it

An interesting memoir, particularly when it deals with the Boston punk music scene and the MacDonald family trip to Ireland. Nevertheless, this book is quite a disappointment after "All Souls"--an unforgettable account of a boyhood in South Boston, filled with rage and poetry.
I loved this author's first memoir "All Souls" about growing up amidst the poverty and violence in the tight-knit, xenophobic Irish-Catholic community of South Boston in the 1970s/80s, how that poverty and violence claimed the lives of four of his brothers and disabled one of his sisters. In Easter Rising, he focuses on his own story, how he was transported away from the projects through his love of punk music and how he reconciled himself to his heritage through visits to Ireland. Again, I felt ...more
Apr 12, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
I recently heard Michael Patrick MacDonald speak at a conference and his story and remarks on intergenerational trauma compelled me to go back and finally read his second book. Where All Souls is amazing storytelling about the MacDonald family and the social and cultural underpinnings that shaped their lives in Southie, Easter Rising brings you into the author's own experience and how he dealt with so much trauma. It is raw and gut wrenching but also redemptive. "Everyone knew exactly how they ...more
Mar 18, 2009 Janellyn51 rated it really liked it
It's a funny thing when you go to a book signing, and the author says "you look familiar". You say, well, I went to the Rat alot and I did some modeling...and he says, "Oh my God, I totally remember you"!!!! I loved this book. How often do you get to read a book about your scene, the places you went, the shows you were at and your friends that were there with you? Easter Rising totally did it for me. If you've read All Souls, and you should...If you want to know how Michael pulled himself up out ...more
I almost never read memoirs, they just aren't that interesting to me. But for some reason this one caught my eye and I decided to give it twenty pages or so. Those twenty pages didn't grip me, but they were enough to make me give it another twenty pages, and on in that vein until I was halfway through the book. MacDonald's previous book (All Souls) was apparently all about the hard life growing up in Boston's Irish-Catholic "Southie" neighborhood (as seen in movies such as The Departed, Mystic ...more
Oct 18, 2012 Chuck rated it liked it
The edition I read of this book has a cover that markets it as a memoir of a young man who grew up in the era of punk rock. I suppose the publisher is trying to appeal to a demographic who also grew up in the late '70's and early '80's when The Sex Pistols and The Clash were the cutting edge of the music scene. And in a way, this book does deliver. Michael MacDonald did experience British punk and new wave music when it first came to America, and he tells fascinating stories of himslef as a ...more
Mar 24, 2014 Christina rated it really liked it
I suspect when "All Souls" came out, a lot of people went to the author and said "This book is amazing, but what about you?" I noticed, reading it, that MPM kept himself very much to the narrator role of the book, and sometimes it seemed as if we only knew what he was up to because of his presence or absence during his story about one of his siblings or his mother.
So now we know what he was up to, and I'm glad we found out. It's just not as compelling a story, I suspect because he has a harder t
Jun 23, 2016 Joanne rated it liked it
MacDonald was born the year after I was, and grew up in South Boston. Some of what he writes about sounds familiar: the music scene in the 70's and early 80's, forced busing of Boston schools along with overt (and not so-overt) racism in Boston, some facets of Irish American culture. But MacDonald grew up as one of 10, raised by a single mom (who sounded like an amazing, accordion-playing character - she went back to school to get her college degree at Suffolk after the kids were born and ...more
Jun 12, 2015 Cathy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a while to get to my favorite part where visiting his grandfather's Ireland but his struggles do come together. Learned about South Boston, Whitey Bulger and more than I ever dreamed of the music in the 80's and 90's. The dealing with so many tragedies the Irish way explains so much for any Irish family finding a path to coping with loss.
May 15, 2008 Stacy rated it really liked it
Well, written. Makes me think differtly when I see a kid who is screaming to be different. I'll try to be a little more understanding.
Diane Vance
Oct 14, 2016 Diane Vance rated it did not like it
Loved his first memoir. Unfortunately, this one was a snooze
Apr 01, 2011 Meaghan rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoir, boston, favorites
I was surprised by how much I liked his second memoir considering I had heard that it paled in comparison to his first--and one of my favorite--memoirs, All Soul's. It has been a while since I read All Soul's, and I intend to read it now again, but in my memory it described rather than explained the ethnocentric mindset of South Boston. Easter Rising focuses on explaining that self-deprecating mentality, using the story of MacDonald's own growth--through art, culture, and, most importantly, punk ...more
Althea Terenzi
Jul 30, 2013 Althea Terenzi rated it did not like it
To summarize very quickly, imagine the moves A Bronx Tale, Good Will Hunting, The Departed, and American Hardcore blended together, and you've got Easter Rising.

I guess I didn't begin the book with such high expectations, not having read All Souls as many other reviewers have. At first I was hooked by the story, which really accurately portrays Boston and its characters. The narrator's childhood memories were a mix of tough-kid-from-the-streets-of-Southie and nostalgia for quirky family members
Jul 08, 2012 Rachel rated it liked it
Shelves: summer-12
In EASTER RISING, Michael Patrick MacDonald delves deeper into memories of his Southie childhood which he introduced in ALL SOULS. This second memoir assumes you've read ALL SOULS and know the basics of his experiences growing up with a single mother, on welfare, in a South Boston neighborhood overtaken by crime, drugs, and youth suicides--so he doesn't go into detail about these things or indulge in any self-pity. Instead, EASTER RISING is about MacDonald's attempts to escape from the his home ...more
Aug 11, 2010 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Awesome memoir about growing up in in an Irish Catholic family in the projects of Southie, though unlike his other book which I haven't yet read, this one is about the rebellion and how he strives to get away from his family and neighborhood. I was particular drawn into the era where he found punk and started hanging out at record shops and sneaking into clubs in Boston in he 80s, and then about the same when he started going to NYC. While he tells of a generation well before me, I still could ...more
Apr 28, 2008 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: memoirs, boston
The book is testament to what humans can endure emotionally and turn into good. Michael Patrick MacDonald lost numerous siblings in childhood and punk music helped him start to break out of South Boston's projects' mold of drugs and crime.

There's a punk education along with street smarts. You do have to wonder if an underground is even possible anymore. His new found adventurous attitude led him to Europe and then at his grandfather's insistence to Ireland for the first time.

When he was there i
This book was nowhere near as good as MacDonald's previous book, All Souls. Although Easter Rising was an interesting tour through the underground punk and indie scene permeating Boston throughout the late 70s and early 80s, I have to say (and this is going to sound horrible), there was an element of authenticity missing that MacDonald captured so beautifully in his first book. This is not to say that I don't believe MacDonald encountered many of the scenes he describes in Easter Rising. I'm ...more
Apr 29, 2011 Brianne rated it really liked it
It's rare that you have the opportunity to read a book that takes a few blocks away from where you live (granted during much different times). I read All Souls when I first moved to Southie three years ago - after receiving numerous recommendations - and recently my book club led me to Easter Rising. I was instantly drawn in again to MacDonald's stifling project world by his unique voice. He is a phenomenal storyteller. Here he lends his passion and intensity to tales of his teenage angst, which ...more
V. L. Craven
Oct 13, 2014 V. L. Craven rated it really liked it
In the follow up to his successful and riveting memoir, All Souls, MacDonald takes us along for another ride—this time through his teen years in the Irish ghetto of Boston’s Southie. He says he wrote this in response to the readers of his first book who only wanted to know how he’d got himself out of what can only be described as a desperate (and seemingly impossible to escape) childhood. MacDonald was the third youngest of seven kids, raised by the singular ‘Ma’ and when we catch up with him in ...more
Jan 03, 2012 Marisa rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
Easter Rising is a follow-up to Michael McDonald's All Souls, his story of growing up in Southie amidst his Irish-American family during the era of busing in Boston. All Souls blew my mind, and so I admit I had very, very high expectations for Easter Rising.

I was somewhat disappointed by the first part of the book, which mostly focused on McDonald's entry into the world of punk as an escape from his life in Southie. Though interesting, it didn't pack nearly the punch of All Souls, though this wa
Sep 22, 2009 Curtis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Still an enjoyable, interesting read, though not quite as captivating as Macdonald's other book, All Souls A Family Story from Southie. While All Souls A Family Story from Southie focuses on Macdonald's family, Easter Rising examines the author himself: how he viewed Southie growing up, his attempts to distance himself from it and frustrations with the perverted "greatest place on Earth" attitude that was pervasive in his neighborhood, his discouragement with the punk scene he turned to, and his ...more
Feb 03, 2009 Brendan rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Oct 06, 2013 Miles rated it liked it
First thing that attracted me into buying Easter Rising is because of it's relation to Punk. The author, MacDonald, once went through the whole "rebellion" phase of being a teenager. He got caught in the world of Punk and it's essentials: Gate-crashing in concerts, concealing himself in his dark room all day listening to his recorded cassettes of bands such as the Sex Pistols, the Clash, etc.. Pretty much the whole package.

The heartbreaking part though (which is the center of the whole book and
Jun 12, 2008 Aaron rated it liked it
At several points during this book, I found myself wishing I'd read All Souls first. This is a really thoughtful memoir about growing up in South Boston, and is hard to put down. I wanted more on MacDonald's family life and less about his interest in the punk scene, and I certainly wanted to know more about his time in NYC and in Ireland. What it comes down to is that the main segments of this book felt rushed; from growing up in Southie to moving to NY and then his journey through Ireland. More ...more
Kristin Laurel Caffray
Jan 29, 2009 Kristin Laurel Caffray rated it really liked it
I have a warm place for anything Michael writes. I lived in South Boston for the first part of my life so I connect with all his books.

Easter Rising is his second book, that isn't 100% connected to his first but you might be pretty lost on a lot of the names and places in easter rising if you don't read All Souls A Family Story from Southie. Easter Rising is about Michael growing up and Southie and finding his way out of the projects through punk rock and a trip to Ireland. He arouses the angst
Jul 12, 2007 Sandra rated it it was amazing
The true story of a kid growing up in South Boston in the Irish projects during the heyday of punk. This struck home to me because the author and I are the same age and many of the clubs and concerts he wrote about I was at! The book also talks about his huge Irish Catholic family, 4 of his siblings wh died, and making his pilgrimage to Ireland.

He has another book, All SOuls, which parallels this book but get more into the Irish projects, the Irish mafia that controlls Southie, the deaths of his
Jul 09, 2008 Amy rated it really liked it
This memoir grabs you by the throat from the start. In the opening chapter, the author’s brother attempts suicide by jumping off the roof of the family’s housing project. Unfortunately, he survives for a bit … at least long enough to leap to his feet and fight off the EMT’s and his own brother. The book moves along smoothly, illustrating the cycle of poverty and desperation in South Boston and the challenges of breaking that cycle. I had a natural inclination towards this book due to a youth ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Amy rated it it was ok
I read Michael Patrick MacDonald's earlier novel, "All Souls" which I enjoyed directly before reading this one. I really wanted to like this and the beginning was pretty good, but he talked way to much about the punk scene and how he was too good for Southie. When I was about 1/4 of the way through I almost had to put it down, but I pushed through. The end seemed to come out of nowhere although it was more entertaining. The writing isn't bad, it was just more information about himself than about ...more
Mar 15, 2007 Gregg rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Self-loathing Irish White Trash
A sequel to the stellar SOUTHIE. Irish project rat starts to resent his urban Irish-Catholic roots and ends up finding his identity by discovering the world of punk rock. Then he's practically forced into a trip to Ireland to see his heritage and discovers the pride and culture of his heritage.

Easy read and completely amazing. I might say this a little subjectively because this is fairly similar to my upbringing. I didn't grow up in a housing project but I did grow up in an Irish-Catholic neighb
Abby McCabe
Nov 01, 2015 Abby McCabe rated it did not like it
I loved All Souls when I read it when it first came out but I was slightly disappointed with Easter Rising. I'm glad I read it to find out more what his life was like growing up but McDonald started off giving a lot of detail early on (especially with all the punk bands and music) then years flew by without a mention and suddenly he was in Ireland with his crazy ma. How did he pull himself up? Did he ever go back to school? I feel like I could read another McDonald book but overall I'm glad I ...more
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Michael Patrick MacDonald was born in Boston in 1966 and grew up in South Boston’s Old Colony housing project. He helped launch many of Boston’s anti violence initiatives, including gun-buyback programs and the South Boston Vigil Group which served to give voice to the survivors of violence and the drug trade in that neighborhood. He continues to work nationally with survivor families and young ...more
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