“Historically important, insightful, and hugely entertaining”
— Debra Di Blasi, author of Drought and Prayers of an Accidental Nature
“Bold and frank, Crime A Day tells Joe DiBuduo’s story of growing up poor and hungry, of the redemptive power of love, and one man’s ability to change his life of circumstance to a life of choice. A fascinating glimpse into the seedy underbelly of mid-20th Century America.” — Michaela Carter, author of Further Out Than You Thought
By turns unsettling, witty and tragic, Crime A Day exposes the harsh consequences of childhood poverty, educational deprivation and social marginalization. DiBuduo went from a hard-working 6-year-old paperboy to a 22-year-old ex-con with a history of incarceration spanning nearly a decade. An unforgettable memoir about tough gangsters and hard drinkers, corrupt police and cynical judges, and the hungry, hardscrabble kids who survived “Hano”— once Boston’s roughest and most impoverished neighborhood.
This memoir is a sometimes harrowing, sometimes funny, thoroughly engaging account of DiBuduo’s impoverished upbringing in the Hano neighborhood of Boston in the 1940s and 50s. The narrative is brisk and deceptively easy to read (I literally almost couldn’t put it down; finished it in two nights); “deceptively” because the writer takes a matter-of-fact, unsentimental, and unapologetic look at the brutal effects of growing up poor and hungry. Most of us have an intellectual understanding of what “being poor” means, but this story hammers home the raw experience of being born into a disadvantaged environment and a dysfunctional family. What struck me as most chilling about DiBuduo’s descriptions was his nonchalant, that’s-just-the-way-things-were, we-didn’t-know-anything-different tone throughout the book. Theft and violence and deprivation and hopelessness formed his ideas of “normal,” with no context or clue that a better life might be somewhere outside his immediate neighborhood. And unfortunately, it translates to our modern times: poverty in the world’s wealthiest country remains an ugly stain on our national pride, we’re still having discussions and mixed emotions around the tactics and prejudices of police officers, we still use our prison system to warehouse rather than rehabilitate. That DiBuduo survived his childhood and adolescence, and has even thrived in his later years, is a testament to his core decency, his resilience, and his open heart. This is one of my top five books of 2015. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s a necessary one.
5.0 out of 5 stars Understanding the “Other Life”
By Nancy O. Nelson on December 29, 2015
The title of this memoir reflects the irony of this narrative, which follows in detail the path of a young boy who spends much of his first two decades of life committing petty theft and felony. Happily, the narrator never experiences the electric chair, but he tells of men he knew who faced it in the Cook County Jail in Chicago. The narration is in an unabashedly direct and colloquial voice and relates the hunger of his childhood which led him to steal as young as six years old. The narrator emerges throughout the narrative as (ironically) a kind-hearted person who loves children and animals but who will not turn away from a fight when challenged. We see him gradually give up the life of crime for a life of family, art and writing.