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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
The Buzz Boys, by Edward Izzi, is a touching and powerful coming-of-age novel about secrets, trauma, and friendship. The Buzz Boys centers around a group of friends who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s. They could have called themselves the Z Boys because each of them had a Z in their last name. But they were dubbed The Buzz Boys because their voices made a buzzing sound when they were talking in shop class. The unique thing is that each of them suffered physical and emotional abuse, and grew up with the aftereffects. They had to live in the shadow of their fathers' abuse. Each boy is different, and so is affected in different ways. The main character Robert Mazzara is an attorney in Chicago, and when he hears about the suicide of one of his best friends, he realizes the Buzz Boys were a long time ago, and it's been fifty years. They've been through a lot together, and this is their story.
Izzi has created a novel that is compelling, dark at times, and has its finger on the pulse of trauma and how it follows victims through life, coloring their choices, emotions, relationships, careers, self-worth, just to name a few. Opening with Mazzara's friend Marco and his father, this impactful, heart-twisting novel gets to the point of how damaging abusive fathers can be. This author writes characters that could walk off the pages and into your living room. They're real, personal, fully formed, and different from one another, yet share similar pain and outcomes. The writing is captivating, the plot strong and poignant, but there are some unexpected events to keep you wondering what will happen next. I love how Izzi takes you back through the decades and makes their childhoods real for you, and then leads you through their process of going from boys to men. Mazzara is a great character to know.
Though this is a hard book to read at times, as a former child/adult protection social worker, I can say that you will be emotionally rewarded if you stick with it, and there are some uplifting parts to balance the dark. The end gave me a chill, and that rarely happens when I read a book. As you read and get to know these characters, you want to right the wrongs, you want to do something to change their lives for the better, you want to help them. If you like friendship stories and character studies as depicted in works like Stand by Me, It, or Mystic River, you will connect with The Buzz Boys by Edward Izzi.