Molly Bonamici

Fiction - Mystery - General
261 Pages
Reviewed on 03/18/2016
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

James Mulhern has published fiction in several literary journals, with more stories to be published this year and next. One of his stories appeared in "The Library's Best," a collection of best short stories. In September of 2013, he was chosen as a finalist for the Tuscany Prize in Catholic Fiction.

He was awarded a writing fellowship to study in the United Kingdom during the summer of 2015, where he participated in seminars at Oxford University's Exeter College. In September of 2015, two short stories received Honorable Mentions for the Short Story America Prize. His story "Smoke Rings" was shortlisted for the InkTears Annual Short Story Contest in March of 2016.

He has received eleven acceptances from literary journals for short stories/adaptations from his novel "Molly Bonamici," a psychological thriller set in Boston and South Florida. Three of those short stories received awards. In 2016 and 2017, additional stories will be published in an anthology, as well as in literary magazines.

The Missouri Review, considered one of the premier literary magazines in the United States, wrote that his novelette, "A Prayer for Home," "impressed the editorial staff with its well-written, complex characters, themes of the piece, and its fantastic voice." Kirkus Reviews wrote the following about the protagonist of his novel "Molly Bonamici": "While she may have a cold exterior, her distinctiveness is an appealing quality and often amusing. Molly, for example, discussing a dead body, tells a store clerk: 'Maggots are a good source of protein....Do you sell word processors?' A gleefully and wonderfully odd protagonist eases readers into a bare-bones plot." His novel received a five-star review from Readers' Favorite.

Mr. Mulhern published a short story collection, a novel, a novelette, four individual short stories, and two textbooks in January/February of 2016. He is in the process of writing additional teacher guides, including one for common core exams, and this summer he will begin writing a follow-up novel to "Molly Bonamici" set in Ireland.

You can email Mr. Mulhern at

    Book Review

Reviewed by JJ Phillips for Readers' Favorite

James Mulhern’s supernatural story, Molly Bonamici, revolves around Molly, a high school senior. Molly is in for a big surprise when she follows her grandmother to visit a faith healer in a less than stellar neighborhood in Boston. Lady Jane, the faith healer, tells Molly that she is the Angel of Death. Lady Jane predicts that Molly will be surrounded by tragedy for the remainder of her life, and that some of the deaths will be violent and hard to experience. When the faith healer’s prediction begins to come true, Molly panics. She doesn’t believe in the supernatural or paranormal, so she decides to get out of town and see a different view of the world. Along the way, she meets a number of extraordinary, vibrant characters and she realizes something interesting about life. Molly discovers that life is a giant mystery and no one is prepared for life’s twists and turns. She can’t be expected to know all of life’s surprises. And what would be the fun in that, anyway?

The best thing about Molly Bonamici was the characters. James Mulhern did an excellent job of creating strong, colorful characters that lit up the page. There wasn’t a single clichéd or flat character among the plethora of people that Molly encountered. Molly, of course, was my favorite. She was a strong female character that wasn’t afraid to show her weakness or vulnerabilities. She was thrown into a strange new world with her so called powers, and when she didn’t understand what was going on, she went on an incredible journey to find out. I found her refreshing and very likeable. A job well done.

April Gilly

Molly Bonamici by James Mulhern is the story of Molly Bonamici. Molly starts her tale when she is a teenager still living at home and getting ready to head to college, and ends shortly after the death of her grandmother. Molly tells of what life was like at home with her abusive father and her mother, who was weak and let her father do what he wanted; how her grandmother essentially raised her and she spent all her time there; of finding a friend of her grandmother's dead; when a prank went wrong in college and led to the death of her roommate; glosses over the rough period she went through after graduating from college; and tells of her move down to Florida with her best friend and roommate who was her personal trainer at a gym she joined. At points, Molly goes into detail on the events she's describing and reveals her worries and fears while telling the story of her life.

Molly Bonamici by James Mulhern is well written and unique. The story is told from Molly's viewpoint, but is so much more than just Molly telling her story. Molly tells of her fears and what she felt during some of her life experiences. What Molly reveals makes her seem like there's somebody sitting right next you telling you the story. Molly Bonamici feels real and is very easy to relate to when she tells of her fears and experiences, but I really related to her when she told of the regrets she had about her parents and other events that happened in her life. It made me sad when Molly's story ended as I'm not really sure that her story really was done. I will be watching for a second book on Molly, just in case James Mulhern decides to continue her story.

Anna Smith

Molly Bonamici by James Mulhern is a young adult story centered around high school senior, Molly. Molly's life turns upside down when she is told by a faith healer that she is an Angel of Death. As the faith healer's predictions begin to come true, Molly is surrounded by death, but she doesn't believe in the paranormal. She couldn't have psychic abilities. She doesn't even believe in religion! She leaves the comfort of her Catholic neighborhood to set about exploring the world. During her journey to discover what is true and what is myth, Molly begins to understand that humans are fragile beings with so many more mysteries and complexities than anyone can imagine. She is surprised by what she learns about humanity, but mostly by what she learns about herself.

I'm not sure if James Mulhern intended Molly Bonamici to be a young adult story - the main character is a senior in high school and the story is about her life, so it qualifies as a YA story. However, Mulhern touches on some deep issues that aren't normally seen in YA books, but that I found quite refreshing and thought-provoking. It was very interesting to have a main character questioning the meaning of life. Why shouldn't teenagers voice their thoughts about religion and paranormal activities and the afterlife? All of these are natural, normal questions and it made the story seem so real and genuine. Along the journey, Mulhern had us laugh and cry with Molly, which makes it an even more touching story.

Lit Amri

Molly Bonamici by James Mulhern starts in the '80s, when 16-year-old Molly lives with her abusive father and demure mother. Molly is a smart but introverted and somewhat gloomy teenager, hoping to leave her dysfunctional parents behind and be on her own. The only family she gets along with is her grandmother, Nonna Agnella. When she accompanies Nonna to a faith healer in a seedy section of downtown Boston, Molly is told that she is an Angel of Death, and will be surrounded by tragedy most of her life. Within a short time it seems the prediction comes true, but Molly will discover some shocking truths as she journeys into adulthood and learns more about who she should trust in the beginning.

Molly is cold and her rather cynical attitude may not make her an instantly likable lead character, but she will win readers over bit by bit with her intelligent and firm approach. The writing is consistently compelling, and sometimes serves as observations on the human condition. Anyone who has ever been an adolescent on the brink of adulthood will find a lot to relate to in Molly’s struggles to get an anchor in her life and her edginess to move ahead. Alternatively, I can relate more to the adult Molly. The change in her perspectives toward life in general is easily relevant and thought-provoking, and I absolutely love the big, hidden twist in the plot. Simply put, Molly Bonamici is a solid read from Mulhern and highly recommended.