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Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite
Small Smile's Sunday Buddy and other South Brooklyn Tales by J.A. McNally is an anthology of short stories centered around a man's life with Brooklyn as the backdrop. After a sixteen-hour shift, a nurse begins to wonder about the dreams of her unconscious patient. That patient turns out to be Aiden A. Fitzpatrick. This is his story. Growing up in South Brooklyn, Aiden had his share of running into neighborhood bullies. When years later he returns to his old neighborhood, he discovers that the hoodlums who used to torture him had become primary troublemakers as adults, much to their own detriment. He reminisces about how he joined the US Air Force in 1975 after the Vietnam War was over, enlisting himself as a medic, only to be appalled by the condition of fellow soldiers during the aftermath of the war.
Filled with nostalgia and bittersweet melancholy, Small Smile's Sunday Buddy and other South Brooklyn Tales is the life story of a young man who grew up in South Brooklyn and its implications on his life as he entered adulthood. Author J.A. McNally's collection of short stories strikes a chord in your heart and makes you feel you're getting an unflinching glimpse at the life of a real person. This is primarily because the narrative is grounded in realism, with vivid characters in real-life situations trying to make the best of the cards they have been dealt by life. Overall, I found Small Smile's Sunday Buddy to be a fascinating and thought-provoking piece of work that I highly recommend.