The essence of “A Boardwalk Story” [J. Louis Lampolsky/Plexus/488pgs ] evolves from its necessity to show how different situations or perceptions of actions affects someone’s mental growth or psychology. The setting of Atlantic City in the middle of The Great Depression would initially not seem to be the most prudent decision. But upon further time within it, its early “Goodfellas”-type structure maintains an innocence while still showing what is really going on. The age of the main protagonist almost skews too young at 15 which is fine for a novel but problematic at times for perhaps a movie adaptation. The idea of a kid with good ethics seeing a portrait of money brokering along with a balance of structure of organized crime is a neat angle because how he sees it becomes a conflict of paradise lost. The reason this story of the main character of young Jack works is because of the balance of people around him. The reason Henry Hill worked as a character in “Goodfellas” is because you had Paulie and all the other characters around him. Now while there is a derative of that structure here, one has to take into account that this is set during the Great Depression in Atlantic City. There is sex and violence to be sure but within acceptable limits. In terms of the characters, there are many, with the most intrinsic being Benny James who almost strikes you as the pleasure model from AI who Jude Law played. He seems slightly out of time and that is what makes him work. His eventual angle of importance to the military tends to work well. Goren and Morris, two older mentor characters, play almost like different Jedi masters to young Jack while gangster Bobo definitely has the Dark Side working.
Jack’s adventures in maturation play ultimately to his reactions and violent possibilities although beyond his life altering interlude towards the end of the book, there doesn’t seem to be alot to explain his need to lash out. It is narratively pointed and works well but a more exposition on this point is needed. Granted most of his perceptions are in his head (but so were Henry Hill’s). The mechanism becomes a bit of a cheat but doesn’t slow down the read, though the retroactive perspective is never quite put in true structure. Nonetheless, “A Boardwalk Story” is an interesting view into a familiar world with some new characters to stir the pot. Out of 5, I give it a 3.