E.L. Doctorow's novel, "Billy Bathgate," is a story about a young man growing up in the Bronx during the Great Depression. Billy grows up without a father figure and has a desire to work for successful, big time, mobsters of the Great Depression. He is taken under the wing of Shultz, the leader of one of the most notorious gangs in Brooklyn. As Billy works his way up in the gang he finds himself questioning his actions and motives. Billy comes to a point where he has to make up his mind, is he in or out?
I really enjoyed this book a lot. I would say that this is like a noir version of Tom Sawyer, it may be hard to understand but this is a darker tale with a similar plot. Both Tom and Billy are growing up in hard times, but Billy isn't in the "country" but the Bronx. He's not doing small time crime, but he's working for a top dog gang. He comes to see things no one could imagine to see at his age now. I felt like I really connected with the time period of the book, the 1930s, and it was interesting to see how people in the city lived through the Great Depression. This book is pretty graphic, but if you liked The Giver and the Godfather than this is a good read for you.