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Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite
East Side Angels is a work of literature featuring young people and themes of growing up and was penned by author Joseph Gustafson. Suitable for young readers as well as nostalgic adults, this charming tale gives life to its central character Joe, who is growing up during the 1950s. At a time when teenagers were feeling a little lost, they turned to music influences and icons for guidance, and that’s when Elvis Presley and his contemporaries came along. So begins a short chapter book filled with inspiring experiences which provided emotional and social development for kids – and the general culture of young people – at that time.
As a huge fan of the 50s and early 60s rock and roll, I dived straight into the nostalgia of this tale and never wanted to let go. There’s a strong sense of place in this short and sweet tale – Father Angelo stopping the dance lessons to pray when it got a bit hot and heavy, for example – which gives it such fantastic charm and keeps a smile on your face when you’re reading. Joe and his friends are, at first, simplistically portrayed it seems as we get our facts and figures about the music they love, but slowly this develops into a sophisticated portrait of teen culture in its own perfect time capsule. The imagery used by author Joseph Gustafson also illuminates this world in glorious technicolor, from the haircuts to the fashions and the way they tried to imitate their idols. Overall, East Side Angels is an accomplished and charming work of nostalgia for all ages to enjoy.