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Al Capone Does My Shirts (Tales from Alcatraz, #1)
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September 2020: Other Books > (Poll Ballot Tally) Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko - 4 stars

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message 1: by annapi (last edited Sep 04, 2020 08:44AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

annapi | 5097 comments Twelve-year-old Moose and his family move to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when his father gets a job as a guard and handyman at the prison. His sister Natalie is severely autistic and their parents have struggled unsuccessfully to get her into special schools for her condition. The kids of the families who work at Alcatraz go to school in San Francisco, and the warden's conniving daughter Piper has a plan to make money by selling the prison's laundry services to kids who want the notoriety of having their clothes washed by Al Capone and other famous criminals.

This was a very interesting premise and pretty well done. In 1935 the term "autism" was as yet unknown, so most families had very little idea of how to deal with the tantrums and obsessive-compulsive tendencies of such children. Though a little simplistic and juvenile when dealing with the kids and school, the story handled Natalie's autism with respect and it seemed to me pretty representative of the time period when much less was understood about the condition compared to today. In the afterword the author detailed her research on the families that lived on Alcatraz for her portrayal of life there. She also mentioned that the character of Natalie was based on her experiences with her own autistic sister. It was in the end this portrayal that led me to raise my rating from the 3 stars I started out with to a 4.

Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 6094 comments I really like these books.

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