Simon & Schuster, Dec 2002, %25.00, 224 pp.
THE FIFTEEN STREETS are slums filled with abject poverty that usually leads to its residents giving up on the future as the hard work destroys the dreams and hopes for something better if not for themselves at least for their offsprings. A drunk sired John O'Brien, yet the lad once believed that hard work was the avenue out. However, his toil on the docks has left him with deep doubts and the realization that the odds are he will end up just like his dad.
Upon meeting his younger sister's teacher Mary Llewellyn, John renews his belief he will make something of himself because now he has the impetus to become a better person. Mary comes from a higher class than John yet prefers working with the children of the FIFTEEN STREETS in the belief that education is the ticket out of destitution. As John and Mary fall in love, the pressure increases to end this forbidden relationship that binds two people from opposite sides of the tracks.
Although the class differences blocking a relationship seem antiquated, this reprint of a classic Catherine Cookson book stands the test of time due to the ageless themes that survival and intelligence is inadequate without love, passion, and hope. The descriptions of the FIFTEEN STREETS neighborhood are sadly realistically horrifying then and now yet brilliantly interwoven into a powerful plot. Fans will admire Mary and root for John to overcome the impossible, which is why the deceased Ms. Cookson remains a favorite.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner