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November 15, 2021

Last Stop on the 6 by Patricia Dunn ~ a Review

by MK French

Angela Campanosi left Pelham Bay in the Bronx after an accident left her brother Jimmy paralyzed. Ten years later, Angela returned from LA for Jimmy's wedding, but the groom disappeared and left behind a cryptic note. Angela’s mother won't tell Jimmy’s fiancĂ©e, her father goes on a bender, her ex-boyfriend runs the family exterminating business, and her stepfather just wants to feed everyone. It's up to Angela to find Jimmy, learning about herself and the family she left behind.

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The Last Stop on the 6
November 2021; Bordighera Press; 978-1599541730
ebook, print (286 pages); literary fiction

I was honestly drawn to this by the title, because I used to ride the 6 train all the time. This is New York City of 1991, and I can practically hear the cadence of Angela's speech as she talks and moves through her old Bronx neighborhood. Her family doesn't talk about any of the changes that had happened in the ten years she's been away, so she clung to her guilt for the entire time. This leads their secretive behavior to be interpreted in the worst possible way. She's sure that her brother doesn't want to get married. Or he owes the mafia money. Or that someone is dying. Discovering her family's actual motives undoes a huge portion of her sense of self, because she was always sure she had helped to ruin her family. Believing it was her fault her brother had an accident, she crossed the country, never returned, and dove into being an activist. Angela didn't fear getting arrested, she only feared being close to family.

The characters here are exactly that: characters. I say this in a good way, because they're memorable. Angela always refers to her mother as Mommy until told otherwise, while her father is Dad and her stepfather is Mike. The superstitions of the Italian Catholics are funny in a way, because I've known people with similar ones, and they never make sense when you try to explain them. In the manner of most kids in the 70's, Angela, Jimmy and Billy essentially raised themselves by playing out in the streets and hanging out; which is partly why they never really learned how to lean on adults when in trouble or discuss things. It didn't help that Dad wanted so badly for Jimmy to make it in Hollywood, and Angela felt that work was the only way to get his attention. Real trouble got swept under the rug, and it's only when Angela's fed up and lets all of her thoughts out that her family's truths can be discussed.

I enjoyed seeing this dysfunctional family at work. It's a bit of a train wreck, in that you can't look away from what you know isn't going to work out, and I wanted to shake some of them to have them talk to each other. But that's me in 2021 wanting to affect 1991 characters, and culture has changed in thirty years. Still, I liked seeing this look at the City and the state it was in at the time, as well as this slice of life.

Buy The Last Stop in the 6 at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for free)

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever. 

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